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Salton Sea Suspected Source of Foul Sulfur Stench

Since yesterday, residents across the Southland have been getting a whiff of a very unpleasant odor, but air quality officials are not sure where it's coming from.

Officials continued their effort today to determine the cause of a foul odor that has been reported around the Southland from Palm Springs to Los Angeles, although several factors indicate the Salton Sea may be the source.

Onshore breezes today may keep the stench from reaching as far west as it did on Monday, said South Coast Air Quality Management District officials.

"Several sources have reported hot weather and a possible release of bacteria from the bottom of the sea due to winds there,'' SCAQMD Executive Officer Barry Wallerstein said. "Those conditions could cause strong sulfur odors ... However, we do not have any definitive evidence to pinpoint the Salton Sea or any other source yet.''

Wallerstein added that "...strong thunderstorm activity in the Salton Sea area and resulting high winds from the southeast could have pushed odors into the Los Angeles basin'' even though "it is highly unusual for odors to remain strong up to 150 miles from their source.''

Investigators continue to work to determine the source. On Monday evening, they collected air samples throughout the Coachella Valley and at the Salton Sea, according to the AQMD.

"An analysis of those samples may provide further evidence of a possible source,'' according to a district statement.

The AQMD also sent field inspectors to the San Fernando Valley, Long Beach, Colton, Riverside, San Bernardino, Perris, Temecula, Banning, Palm
Springs and La Quinta in an effort to pinpoint the source of the stench.

"A foul `rotten egg-like' odor has been sensed across vast expanses of Southern California since early this morning,'' Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department said Monday. "LAFD is not aware of any specific hazard associated with the odor.''

The AQMD received more than 200 complaints since midnight Monday reporting a strong, foul rotten egg odor. Most of the calls came from the Coachella Valley and elsewhere in Riverside County, but some came from San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to the AQMD.

"Residents have complained from a very wide area including the Inland Empire and much of the Los Angeles Basin,'' district media relations manager Sam Atwood said.

"Fish kills, algae blooms and other biologic conditions in lakes can cause strong odors. Industrial facilities such as wastewater plants also can cause sulfur odors,'' according to the AQMD.

Some schools in the foothills areas of Los Angeles County implemented their "rainy day'' schedule, which means activities normally taking place outdoors were moved indoors, said Monica Carazo of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

arc0300 September 11, 2012 at 03:08 PM
mystery solved. my buddy said he forgot to close the lid on the trashcan the other night after throwing away his kid's diapers. he says it won't happen again. in other news..incase you were wondering what the salton sea was... 'The Salton Sea is a shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California's Imperial Valley.'

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