Smell rotten eggs? Take action, tell Columbia Gas of Virginia

Smell rotten eggs? Take action, tell Columbia Gas of Virginia

newspaperBecause natural gas is odorless and colorless, a rotten eggs smell is injected into the underground natural gas distribution system as an early warning safety alert that natural gas may be escaping from the underground pipelines.

The senses of sight, hearing, and smell are critical in helping recognize a possible natural gas leak. If you identify a possible natural gas leak, you need to take immediate action. Columbia Gas of Virginia offers the following safety tips in identifying a potential natural gas leak and what you should do if you smell natural gas:

  • Look – Bubbling water or dirt blowing from the ground near a natural gas line can indicate a release of natural gas from the underground pipeline.
  • Listen – If you hear a hissing, blowing, or roaring sound that could indicate a potential hazard.
  • Smell – Because natural gas is odorless and colorless, Columbia Gas adds “Mercaptan” to the natural gas system, which smells like “rotten eggs.” Mercaptan is used as an early safety warning detection of a potential hazard.

What to Do If You Smell Natural Gas (Similar to Rotten Eggs)

  • Immediately evacuate the area.
  • From a safe location, call 911 and Columbia Gas at 1-800-544-5606.
  • Warn others to stay away from the area.
  • Leave windows and doors in their current position.
  • Avoid open flames or anything that could spark ignition – including cell phones, lights, garage doors, door bells, or other power equipment.
  • Do not attempt to operate a pipeline valve or try to correct the leak yourself.
  • When emergency personnel arrive explain the situation to them.

At no charge, Columbia Gas technicians will immediately respond, evaluate the odor, make the natural gas facilities safe and make appropriate repairs.

For more information about natural gas safety, visit

About Columbia Gas of Virginia: Columbia Gas of Virginia delivers safe, reliable and clean natural gas to over 251,000 customers in portions of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, suburban Richmond, Central Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley, the Lynchburg region and parts of Western Virginia. With headquarters in Chesterfield County, the company is one of the 7 energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) serving 3.8 million natural gas and electric customers. Always call 811 before you dig and Dig with CARE. Learn more at



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