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Smelly gas from Rouen to Paris

Factory leaks ‘world’s smelliest gas’ across hundreds of square kilometres of north France – but it is said to be safe

A GAS leaking from a factory in Rouen has been causing a skunk-like stink all the way to Paris – but is harmless, the authorities stress.

Chemical firm Lubrizol, in Rouen, admits to having “detected an instability on one of its chemical products” says the prefecture of Seine-Maritime, after unpleasant odours reached the capital around midnight last night, causing worry in the city and suburbs.

Emergency lines are said to have been flooded by calls in Seine-Maritime, where Rouen is located, and Paris.

On the internet hundreds of people across the Ile-de-France have been complaining of “an unbearable smell” as well as headaches and feelings of nausea.

The gas in question is ethyl mercaptan, commonly added to odourless natural gas so as to make it detectable in a gas leak.

The Guinness Book of Records called it the world’s “smelliest substance”. A variant is found in the spray of skunks.

The Interior Ministry has advised there is “no health risk” and Lubrizol has said it is “hopeful” of having got the problem under control later today.

Scientists say ethyl mercaptan can be dangerous if inhaled directly and may cause irritation of the eyes, skin and airways at lower concentrations.

Photo: Google Street View

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