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Coastal Area Odor Complaint Response Information

SCAQMD has received numerous odor complaints from areas areas related to a gas/sulfur/chemical type smell. Investigation of potential sources is ongoing.

Background

The SCAQMD has received numerous odor complaints from the Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, and Long Beach areas in the past two years related to a gas/sulfur/chemical type smell.  During these events, the odors are reported to originate along the shoreline and quickly travel through the neighboring cities, eventually dissipating.  Long Beach, Huntington Beach, and Seal Beach fire departments have also reported that their 911 emergency phone lines receive numerous calls for emergency service reporting natural gas leaks during these odor events, prompting them to ask for assistance from the SCAQMD in locating the source.  To date, the source(s) of the odors have not been clearly identified but potential sources are being investigated.  There are multiple sources within the area that have the potential to emit gas/sulfur/chemical type odors, and due to the intermittent nature and unknown source location, it is challenging to assess the cause. 

Additional Information

  • Fact Sheet (PDF) - "FAQ on the Coastal Offshore Odor Investigation and Health Effects"
    These frequently asked questions describe the air sampling results and address key questions about the health effects of the measured pollutants.

Complaint Investigations

SCAQMD has responded to the odor complaints along the shoreline by deploying Compliance staff to investigate.  In most cases, the odors have already dissipated by the time they reach the area.  As part of the ongoing investigation into these odors, SCAQMD has taken the following actions:

  • Responded to and investigated all odor complaints near the shoreline area and performed odor surveillance in the surrounding affected coastal communities of Long Beach, Seal Beach, and Huntington Beach (the shoreline complaint area is identified in the yellow highlighted area in the map below). 

  • Enlisted the assistance of the Long Beach, Huntington Beach, and Seal Beach Fire Departments

  • Requested assistance from city, state, and federal agencies to aid in the investigation of the odors and provide additional resources.

  • Conducted plume modeling using wind speed and direction information combined with complaint information during odor events to determine the potential location of the source.

  • Collected and analyzed air samples to determine the types and levels of pollutants that are potentially present during the odor events.

Air Sampling Summary

The SCAQMD  may collect samples as a result of an odor investigation or during routine surveillance activities.   In addition, SCAQMD is working in collaboration with the Long Beach, Huntington Beach, and Seal Beach Fire Departments to collect air samples during their response to 911 calls for natural gas odors. Instantaneous samples (also known as grab samples) are collected when odors are present, and take less than a minute to collect. 

Once a sample is collected, it is delivered to the SCAQMD laboratory for analysis. Instantaneous (grab) air samples were collected on the dates indicated below.  Samples collected in SUMMA canisters were analyzed for the presence of volatile organic compounds. Samples collected in Tedlar bags were analyzed for TRS (total reduced sulfur).  For lab analysis results, click on the link for the type of analysis performed.

All reports below are in PDF format.

Date of sample collection

Sample ID#

Analyzed for

3/1/2017

1706131

Sulfur

3/1/2017

1706145

GCMS

3/14/2017

1707405

GCMS

3/27/2017

1708705

VOC

4/18/2017

1711009

GCMS

5/18/2017

1713806

GCMS

5/27/2017

1714806

Sulfur

6/18/2017

1717004

Sulfur

6/18/2017

1717005

VOC

7/2/2017

1719225

VOC

8/28/2017

1724128

Sulfur

8/28/2017

1724129

TCA

8/28/2017

1724129

VOC

9/9/2017 

1725204

TRS

9/9/2017

1725325 

TCA 

9/9/2017

1725325

VOC

9/10/2017

1725404 

VOC 

9/10/2017 

1725404 

TCA

9/18/2017 

1726101

TCA

9/18/2017

1726101

Sulfur

9/18/2017

1726101 

VOC 

10/5/2017

1727815

TRS

10/17/2017 

1729101

TCA

 10/17/2017

1729101

VOC

 10/17/2017

1729102

TCA

 10/17/2017

1729102 

VOC

 10/17/2017

 1729102

Sulfur 

 11/7/2017

1731201 

VOC

11/7/2017 

 1731201

 TCA

11/7/2017 

 1731202

Sulfur

12/25/2017 

1736009 

 VOC

 12/25/2017

1736009 

TCA

12/29/2017 

1800302 

VOC

12/29/2017 

1800302 

TCA

 2/8/2018

1803910 

 TCA

 2/8/2018

1803310 

 VOC

 2/8/2018

1803911 

 Sulfur

 2/8/2018

1804001

 Sulfur

 2/8/2018

1804002

TCA 

 2/8/2018

 1804002

 VOC


Future Steps

As part of the SCAQMD’s ongoing investigation into the source(s), staff are now focusing on the following:

  • Continuing to respond to, and investigate, odor complaints and perform odor surveillance.

  • Requesting further assistance from city, state, and federal agencies to aid in the investigation of the odors and provide additional resources.

  • Continuing to perform surveillance along the shoreline between Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, and Long Beach with a FLIR camera to potentially identify sources venting to the atmosphere.

  • Working with community members for the collection of samples during odor events. 

Coastal odor complaints2

 







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South Coast Air Quality Management District

21865 Copley Dr, Diamond Bar, CA 91765

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