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Pungent odor has company holding nose

NATCHEZ — A spokeswoman for Genesis Energy said the company is looking into what may have made a delivery of crude oil to its Natchez terminal last week particularly malodorous.

Genesis operates a crude oil unloading facility in the Natchez-Adams County Port. Unit trains — that is, large transport trains — bring the oil to the port area, where Genesis loads it onto barges destined for the Gulf Coast refinery markets.

When a train was unloaded April 19, the crude oil was unusually smelly, and the smell was logged at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office as a hazardous materials incident, and the Natchez Fire Department responded to the area.

“We are looking into what caused it, because it was a little more noticeable than normal, and we are looking into ways to mitigate it in the future,” Genesis Spokeswoman Jennifer Stewart said.

Stewart said the smell was that of an intensified odor associated with crude oil, while Natchez Fire Chief Oliver Stewart said fire crews were looking for a natural gas leak based on the smell.

Chief Stewart said in addition to the fire department, Atmos Energy, which is also located in the port area, helped with the hunt for the smell with its leak-detecting equipment, he said.

Gene Perkins, who lives in the area, likewise said he smelled natural gas associated with the train. Perkins said last Saturday was not the only time that has occurred.

“The smell is so strong sometimes we get to where we can’t go outside,” he said.

“I am not trying to cause any problems for anybody. I would just like for the smell to go away.”

Perkins said based on conversations he has had with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, he believes the odor is associated with the cleaning of the tanks Genesis unloads.

Jennifer Stewart said that’s not the case because Genesis doesn’t clean the tanks in Natchez.

“They are unloaded, and then they are sent back to where they came from,” she said.

“We are strictly an unloading and loading facility.”

Jennifer Stewart said Genesis does not use any chemicals that smell like natural gas at the Natchez facility, but does use some natural gas in its operations.