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Days of 'rotten egg' smell prompts clean-up at LA port

Photo by Greg Bishop via Flickr Creative Commons

Approximately 150-200 gallons of rancid water seeped from the ground at the Port of Los Angeles causing a strong "rotten egg" smell and prompting an official clean up on Tuesday.

The spill and smell near Berth 136 was reported to shipping personnel by a plumber over the weekend, however it was not addressed until "the foul odor became more pronounced," according to port spokesman Phillip Sanfield, reports the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

LAFD officials were alerted just after 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and 20 firefighters were dispatched with a hazardous material team to the San Pedro port, said department spokesman Erik Scott. 

Scott classified the situation as a "static spill" of hydrogen sulfide -- a poisonous compound often associated with sewers. Tests revealed "rancid water, which may explain the rotten egg smell," Sanfield said.

Los Angeles Port Police Lt. Titus Smith confirmed the disturbance had been reported earlier saying, "It's my understanding that a worker reported the rotten egg smell to terminal personnel three days ago, but they assumed it was just dirty water...Apparently, no one bothered to check out the report."

A vacuum truck was used to clear the runoff, said Scott who explained, "our HazMat team and some firefighters will remain there until the spill is cleaned up, but the port is the lead agency in handling this incident." 

No injuries were reported and no evacuations were ordered. Operations were reportedly uninterrupted at the TraPac shipping terminal.


Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner