May 27, 2002
This gas bill stinks
Your current bill from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) may smell rotten. An informative brochure with a "scratch and sniff" panel containing the distinct odor of natural gas is included in bills this month reaching homes and businesses. A fingernail scratch on the panel will release a smell similar to rotten eggs - the smell that's added to natural gas as a safety messure.
The purpose of the mailing is to help educate and familiarize all members of natural gas households with the odor so they can recognize it if there ever is a leak around their home or elsewhere. After using the pamphlet dispose of it in an outdoor trash can to prevent the odor from lingering inside the home.
The smell comes from a harmless odorant called mercaptan. The odorant is added to natural gas, which otherwise is odorless, so its presence can easily be detected well before it reaches combustible levels.
Other ways to detect a natural gas leak are from a hissing sound, blowing dirt or bubbles in a puddle. If a natural gas leak ever is suspected, the following precautions are recommended:
Open windows and doors for ventilation; Do not turn on or off any electrical switches, use the phone, smoke, light a match or do anything that might create a spark; Leave the area and call Puget Sound Energy immediately - day or night at 1-888-225-5773 - from another location, such as a neighbors house.
The mailing is reaching nearly 700,000 natural gas residental and business customers of Puget Sound Energy in King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, Lewis, and Kittitas counties. Others who would like a scented brochure may call PSE at 1-800-562-1482 (option 1).