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The smell of a gas leak turns out to be the smell of algae blooms from a nearby lake

This week, the Mohegan Fire Department responded to more than 15 reports of gas odors, mostly from the Mohegan Lake area.

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YORKTOWN, NY — Reports of a strong natural gas smell have kept firefighters busy, but the source of the smell is surprising.

Since Sunday, the Mohegan Fire Department has responded to more than 15 calls for gas odors, primarily from the Mohegan Lake area.

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The Mohegan Fire Department and Con Edison have spent countless hours investigating both along the natural gas service area (Route 6 corridor) and in the hamlet of Mohegan Lake, where there are no natural gas connections.

After extensive testing of meters by Mohegan and Con Edison Fire Departments using handheld meters and “sniffer vehicles,” no readings indicating gas were found. However, after interviewing those who reported the strong rotten egg smell often associated with a natural gas leak, public safety officials determined that a large blue-green algae bloom had formed on Mohegan Lake and that the lake's discharge into the wetlands behind Route 6 was causing the odor.

Although the Mohegan Fire Department and Con Edison Fire Department found and repaired three minor leaks (natural gas and propane) that were unrelated to the reports, all calls about possible gas leaks were determined to be the predominant factor in algal blooms.

The bloom appears to have caused the rotten egg smell, which was particularly strong in the immediate vicinity of the water. The smell was also found to spread to nearby areas depending on the wind direction.

The source of the disturbing smell does not mean that neighbors should ignore telltale signs of a gas leak.

“At this time, we are unsure how long this will continue,” Mohegan officials said in a statement posted on social media. “Although this is the cause, if you smell gas, please do not hesitate to call 911 so we can investigate the incident and confirm there is no gas leak.”