UPDATE: Pungent Smell Wafting Through Our Area

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It is a mystery that has tongues wagging and noses sniffing across our area.

For at least 24 hours people have been noticing an unusual odor popping up in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties and beyond.

It's not your imagination and it's not something on the bottom of your shoe.

So what it is? One thing is for sure, everyone has a nose, and almost everyone has a theory.

From Luzerne to Lackawanna to Wyoming and Schuylkill Counties, Ā there is a mystery in the air and it doesn't smell too good.

"I had my window down. I came in and I was like 'what was that?' I didn't even know, I don't know what it is," said Cassidy Martz of Benton.

For about the past 24 hours a strange stench has been popping up and just about nobody knows exactly what to make of it.

Natural, chemical, animal? A mixture of everything.

"I thought I smelled something funny like sewage, and when the other girl came in she said, 'did you smell that?' I am like 'yeah,'" said Tiffany Gray of Shickshinny.

At Janet's Total Appearance Salon in Shickshinny even people who didn't get a whiff of the odor have been caught up in the buzz.

"Seen it on my Facebook newsfeed a lot yesterday, and when I was at work last night, and on the news," said Amanda Ellersick of Mocanaqua.

We explored the Wyoming Valley, trying to sniff out some answers.

DEP spokesperson Colleen Connelly says the situation is unusual.

"Nothing we have ever seen like this before, so it is kind of baffling. It really is," Connelly said.

The agency is checking sewage plants and landfills, but so far nothing definite has been found that could account for the widespread stink.

It looks like the prime suspect is Mother Nature.

There is plenty of snow and ice left and it may be that this unusual winter has led to the unusual smell.

The odors may be triggered by a variety of phenomena, including river gas, vegetation rot, and snow mold

"When snow sits around for a while, it picks up the odors in the air, and it starts to melt, it starts to break down, and there is an odor," Connelly said.

The DEP has gotten hundreds of phone calls, but with so many theories about the smell, nobody "nose" for sure.

"They have all their ideas what they think it is, 'it is a manure pit, sewage pit, my neighbor's dog buried his bones in the back yard.' (It) could be that, unfortunately, yeah" laughed Connelly.

Connolly doesn't believe the smell is dangerous but if it is making you feel ill, you should go inside. She also says the time of day could also play a factor.

DEP has staff from its Clean Water Program checking around with area sewage treatment plants to check for any strong odors. Also our Emergency Response Team is checking at area landfills for any strong odors."

The phone number for the DEP complaint line is 570-830-3057

Let them know what you are experiencing, and maybe they can get to the bottom of the smell wafting through the area.

Some of our viewers have reported the smell on Twitter:


  • Lorrie Koch

    Glad I’m not alone ,,,, smelled it in
    Lehighton… Thought for sure farmers spread their fields !!!

  • William Risboskin

    Do you people even “The smell is not poop. What we are smelling is rot. I have been a landscaper, gardener, logger, and every year around this time when the ground defrosts and all the rot that was frozen becomes unfrozen it smells (oh and when it freezes and defrosts and freezes and defrosts it makes it worse ) if you don’t believe me put some grass and leaves in a bucket add water and let it sit for awhile then dump it out and smell it if you wait to long it will smell worse than poop.”

    • Peter Rizzo

      Your Absolutely right!!!!! The borough I lived in forgot to pick up my grass clippings on week so I decided to take then and dump them myself.Only I forgot that it had rained about 10 days earlier.LEt me tell you …when that water leaked out of the containers and got onto the carpet of my minivan WOW!!!!! IT literally smelled worse than manure..My van smelled like a barn for weeks.

  • mdog

    Your all close very close trapped methane below the frost line can now escape.The question is what caused it to be pushed from its natural
    holding cell?
    Oh lets not forget the thawing winter supply exotic puppy poop
    in so many yards now.Get Scooping kids.

  • karen hudak

    I work at a c Moore in Dickson city, I had people say all night that it smells like manure outside. I have a cold and could not smell it. I thought maybe it was a dirty diaper in the garbage can by the store!

    • Rob

      Over by Dickson city there is the recycling center. They have HUGE compost piles there. That could explain alot of what might be smelled by the interstate there in Dickson City.

  • mdog

    Find it put a fence around it with a guard booth, then call it home
    Its the PA. way. Oh yes then F-Rack it.

  • John

    It’s simply the smell of spring after a harder than normal ground freeze. You get this smell anytime it starts to warm in the spring. It’s not some conspiracy or farmers or any of that. Chill out folks.

    • Rob

      That sounds right There is a lot of uncovered rotting vegetation from the harsh winter. Give it a few weeks. It’ll clear up.

  • Amanda

    I also smelled what I thought was manure here in the Harvey’s Lake area this afternoon the smell wouldn’t go away for hours now the smell is gone but my boyfriend has smelt the same thing out here before hope something bad isn’t going on that we as citizens aren’t being informed about!!

  • Jason

    I’m no scientist, but seeing how strong the northerly winds have been, I’m guessing the winds blew up the smell from “farm country”. Just like winds carry smoke from a fire, I’m sure the same works for that smell! Add on the fact that the snow has thawed and all that frozen waste on the ground finally warmed up and began to decompose at the same time. We are just down wind.

  • melissa

    I smelled this in the hill section of scranton today when I left work, and then again when I got out of my car in Old Forge, definitely smelled like crap.

  • bill r

    well it smells like dead bodies i was in central city scranton , i have smelled dead animals before and this is what it smelled like

  • peggy

    We smell that smell all the time (live next to a farm that uses human waste fertilizers) but I smelled it down in Trexlertown today when I came out of Hobby lobby. Very strange to smell that smell in that area!!!

  • Patty

    Was at the Walmart in Tamaqua. Came out & my 4 year old says “Mommy it smells like cow poop” . Smelled horrible. Drove home to Hazleton, get out of the car & the same smell here. Disgusting!!

  • Bb

    We have that same smell of “crap” in branchdale, Newtown, Tremont, etc. our smell is coming from the human fecis they are bringing from New Jersey and dumping in Blackwood!! They wouldn’t appriciate us dumping our poo in there star so why do we allow them to bring there’s here??? It is a horrible smell I can only imagine how bad it is going to be when the weather warms upšŸ’©
    And they claim out drinking water is not affected..yeah sure it’s not!!!

  • Stacey

    Welcome to our world! We around northern Lackawanna county have been dealing. With a horrible sulfuric sewage like smell for months u here from those mines. Hope whatever it is isn’t toxico

    • dmackie

      Rob, that’s the FIRST sensible thing I’ve read in this whole comment section. You MAY be correct. Thank you for making GOOD use of your intelligence, unlike SOME people who leave comments !

Comments are closed.