What Should You Do If You Smell A Natural Gas Odor?


If you noticed a bad smell in Sioux Falls Wednesday, you’re not alone.  

MidAmerican Energy says it received more than 100 calls from customers about a natural gas smell. 

But it turns out the culprit wasn’t a leak… and it wasn’t gas.    

While you may not recognize this name, you’d probably recognize the smell.

Tuesday, several containers of something call Mercaptan were unearthed at a MidAmerican Energy facility in Sioux Falls.     

A MidAmerican spokesperson tells us the chemical is harmless.  

 It’s the additive that makes it easier to smell natural gas.  

The odor spread because of the the excavation and hauling of the contaminated soil to the landfill. 

All is calm inside Avera’s Pasque Place on the west side of Sioux Falls. 

But Wednesday morning an odor sent people out and away from the building. 

“It was kind of that reaction of you smell smoke or you smell natural gas and you leave the building and they did that,” Avera Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Schlosser said. 

Fortunately, the smell didn’t pose a danger. 

“Basically it’s an odorant or a supplement that Mid-American adds to their natural gas so they can smell it if there actually was a leak, so it’s actually a safety measure,” Sioux Falls Emergency Manager Regan Smith said. 

Pasque Place is just one of several places Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Responded to for the issue. 

While the odor didn’t end up being related to a leak, there are steps you should follow in the future if you ever smell what you think is natural gas. 

“If it’s a home or a commercial building and you smell that natural gas smell you’re going to want to evacuate the building, go a city block away or 250 feet away and contact 911 or MidAmerican Energy,” Smith said. 

Or you have a different natural gas provider, you should call them. 

It’s something Avera employees train for throughout the year. 

“Any business or any building in a city or in a county should have emergency plans. Staff should know what that plan says. If something happens, ‘This is what we do. This is where we go,'” Schlosser said. 

Fortunately, Pasque Place is more on the administrative side of Avera so there were no patients to evacuate. 

The Mercaptan was unearthed because a contractor was digging garage footings for MidAmerican Energy.

The company says it was not aware those containers were there. 



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