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Salton Sea likely source of rotten egg smell in SoCal

September 10, 2012 | 12:23 pm

Salton Sea fish die-off

The source of the rotten-egg smell wafting through the Inland Empire and the Los Angeles Basin is most likely the Salton Sea, said Chief Julie Hutchinson, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Hutchinson said the monsoonal moisture being pushed into the area from a storm in Mexico is delivering the pungent odor, which has been so strong that some homeowners have been worried they may have a leaky sewer pipe.

"I'm 99.9% sure it's the Salton Sea,'' Hutchinson said. "It's just a nasty, funky smell from the Salton Sea. … We've had it before.''

Officials with the Southern California Air Quality Management District said they've received hundreds of calls about the sulfur odor and have dispatched investigators to positively identify the source.

"It just reeks," said Chris Tatum, a steelworker from Riverside who was at home when the smell wafted through town Monday morning. "It smells like rotten muck. I thought there was a fire or something. I couldn't tell what it was."

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said his department has received hundreds of phone calls — including some to 911 — about the odor, which he said has been detected from the Palm Springs area to Simi Valley.

Officials are urging residents not to clog 911 lines as investigators look into the source of a mysterious foul odor reported across Southern California on Monday.


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Dead skunk? Rotten eggs? Complaints galore over foul odor

— Phil Willon in Riverside County

Photo: The parched carcass of a tilapia is half buried in the dried bones and scales of millions of other tilapia that have died and washed ashore at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area over the last decade. The stagnant lake is prone to algal blooms that consume the lake's oxygen and result in massive fish die-offs. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times