Philadelphia emergency responders have not determined what caused the widespread gas odor people smelled in multiple parts of the city on Monday.
The odor was strong enough that some believed it to be a natural gas leak, which it was not, and it resulted in several Center City buildings being evacuated as a precaution. Reports about the smell started before noon.
For a time, officials thought the origin was the former Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in South Philadelphia. Crews at the refinery property had been cleaning tanks there Monday, and an initial report from the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management attributed the odor to a non-hazardous chemical release.
However, later in the afternoon, the Philadelphia Fire Department, which was leading the investigation and sent firefighters with the department’s Hazmat Task Force to the refinery, said that wasn’t the case.
The PFD will continue to investigate any reports of unusual odors. If you believe there is a gas leak on your property, please call 911.
— Philadelphia OEM (@PhilaOEM) March 2, 2020
Many Philadelphians took to Twitter to react to the unknown odor in Center City on Monday.
we were evacuated at 1500 Mkt. The smell was overwhelming. Scary not knowing where it was coming from
— kimmie (@kim_hibbs) March 2, 2020
Lol today we all got sent home because of the gas smell in Center City, Philadelphia and my coworker says “we didn’t get any snow days this year but we get a gas leak day” #philly and it wasn’t even a gas leak…..
— Leanne Menninga (@LeanneMenninga) March 2, 2020
in a shocking twist, center city Philadelphia smells weird
— Grant Pavol (@GrantPavol) March 2, 2020
All of Center City Philadelphia is evacuating buildings due to a gas odor.
— Kevin M. Levy (@LegalLevy) March 2, 2020
Our office will be closed for the remainder of the day due to a suspected gas leak in Center City Philadelphia.
— Public Interest Law Center (@PubIntLawCtr) March 2, 2020