Gas leaks and odour

Smell rotten eggs? It could be a gas leak.

You can’t see or taste natural gas but you sure can smell it! And for good reason. We add a harmless odorant called mercaptan to it so you can smell the natural gas in the rare event of a leak. You may also hear a hissing sound coming from a natural gas appliance if there’s a leak. If you smell it, ACT FAST by doing the following:

  1. Stop what you're doing. Don't use your cellphone or landline, don’t smoke, light matches or operate electrical switches or create any other source of ignition.
  2. Go outside. As you exit, leave the door open behind you as well as any windows that may already be open.
  3. Call us. Once outside, call the FortisBC Emergency Line at 1-800-663-9911 (24 hours) or 911.

Mercaptan: the smell of safety

Natural gas is naturally odourless. So we add trace amounts of a pungent chemical called mercaptan to our natural gas because we want you to smell it if there’s a leak. Mercaptan is derived from naturally occurring compounds like hydrogen sulphide, which has a strong smell even in very low concentrations. So if you catch a whiff of something that smells like boiled eggs that have been left in your lunch bag for a few days, it’s a signal to leave the area and call for help.

Want to learn more? Watch the video of Global BC’s tour of our gas odour lab to learn how and why mercaptan gets added to our natural gas.