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What's That Smell in Royal Oak? It's Not Gas, Utility Says

Consumers Energy received hundreds of calls reporting a natural gas odor Friday night.

 received more than 400 calls Friday night from people in Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge and Royal Oak complaining of an odor in the air similar to natural gas.

Spokeswoman Debra Dodd said the utility company believed the odor was coming from  located at 707 W. Lewiston near Nine Mile Road and Woodward Avenue in Ferndale. According to the company’s website, Polar "offers complete disposal and recycling of non-hazardous waste oil and wastewater at its Ferndale facility."

An answering service for Polar said the company began receiving calls at 7:45 p.m. and that plant managers met with representatives from Consumers Energy and corrected the problem at 8:45 p.m. The answering service did not have information on what caused the odor, only that it would dissipate over time.

“We don’t know what kind of odor it is, but we are confident it is not natural gas,” Dodd said. “We believe it’s a similar smell. Industrial-type smells often have an ‘oily’ odor.”

Ferndale Police said they consulted with Polar on Friday evening and plant management said there are no health concerns for the public.

Dodd said Consumers Energy planned to respond to all the reports it received even though officials were convinced the smell was coming from the Ferndale plant. A Consumers worker who checked on a home that had called in a concern near Woodward and Normandy said even though it "really smells outside" he was not getting a reading for natural gas. He checked inside the home and the gas connection outside and reported no problems. 

Royal Oak Patch Facebook readers throughout the city responded immediately to a report of a smell near 13 Mile and Greenfield:

  • Virginia L. Robinson: ‎6th & South Pleasant!
  • Carol Alward Phelps I thought I smelled natural gas on Vinsetta near 12 Mile earlier but that's pretty far from your area.
  • Eric Hachlinski I'm near 14 and Greenfield and it's still a strong smell... that's a long way from Woodward and Lincoln!
  • Jon Miller Eyes burning at Coolidge/woodward and 12 mile

From Twitter:

  • @achatel311: I'm either crazy or the Royal Oak area smells like natural gas!
  • @SteinJodie: The entire city of Royal Oak MIchigan smells like a new shower curtain today. What is that icky chemical smell? 

Dodd said this was not the first time Consumers has responded to complaints about Polar.

“We want to educate the public. If anyone continues to smell a gas odor, they should call us and have us check it out,” she said.

Beth Reeber Valone December 03, 2011 at 04:34 AM
The smell was VERY strong outside my house Friday night around 8 pm or so and I could smell it a little bit inside. It really freaked us for a few minutes. We were impressed Consumers Energy sent someone to every house that called with a concern to check outside, inside and the gas connection.
Judy Davids (Editor) December 03, 2011 at 04:46 AM
I was driving on 696 earlier this evening. I was coming home from Roseville. When I got to about Dequindre I started to smell the odor. I was worried it was coming from my husband's vehicle!
Gay Thacker December 05, 2011 at 03:48 PM
I've had a irritated nose and headache from this since Friday night. Woke up with a bloody nose on Saturday. Now I'm wondering if it's all from this

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