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Forum staff reports , Published January 26 2013

Smell something rotten? Xcel says chemical spill is behind stink in north Moorhead, Fargo

MOORHEAD – Residents of north Fargo and Moorhead reported a stench like rotten eggs Saturday morning, coming from Xcel Energy’s town border station in north Moorhead.

What seemed like a gas leak was actually a spill of mercaptan, the chemical that is added to odorless natural gas as a safety measure, so that if there is a gas leak, people can smell it, said Mark Nisbet, spokesman for Xcel Energy.

It started around 4 a.m., Nesbit said, and as of 9:30 a.m. Xcel crews were still cleaning and the odor still hung in the air.

Although it’s fairly clear that the stench is from spilled mercaptan, Xcel is treating the situation as if it were a gas leak and taking necessary precautions, Nisbet said.

The situation is not dangerous for Xcel customers or north Moorhead residents, Nisbet said.

The Fargo Fire Department also received many calls about the smell.

The site of the mercaptan spill is where Xcel Energy taps into natural gas pipelines and prepares the gas for consumer use, Nisbet said. That town border station is in rural Moorhead, north of American Crystal Sugar.