UPDATE: Pungent Smell Wafting Through Our Area

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,  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:

80 comments

  • Night Owl

    I never left a comment before on many of the issues I had an opinion on, but as far as the strange smell over all our area I have to say I feel the DEP explanition to be somewhat curious! An admitted night owl, and having been living near the Avoca airport for quite sometime, I am somewhat used to the sound of the air traffic in the middle of the night..however, a few nights ago, I heard a low,(big) sounding airplane making several passes. This happened for two nights that I can say for sure. I know there is training going on periodically from our airport, but this seemed at an unusual time for at least 2 nights, and the next thing a strange smell everywhere….Hmmmmm?

  • Frankie

    What is that smell a lot of people of been smelling it ….is it. a chemical ???kind of freaky a lot of people of been sick recently in the hospital especially around wyoming Valley area. Another odd thing is it hits and then it’s gone all of a sudden. Is this being done deliberately to make us sick is someone behind it no one is saying this odor is causing sickness but a lot of people in the Wyoming Valley are sick. Please get to the bottom of this as it is very very very scary…

  • Dianne

    I’ve been following Easterninterstate81weatherauthority for awhile
    Now too!
    They are hard hitting with weather and local stories!
    Great job.

  • Mark Mcneely

    Well I live here in Wyoming and really came to the posts to find an answer and there is nothing worse than coming to a news thread and having people do schtick…. go to rants and raves on Craigs list where you will be welcomed. I just wanted to ask anyone out there have they noticed the white substance hugging the river line along the land in our area. I thought it was snow or ice for the longest time but now am concerned this is part of illegal dumping upstream where the water trucks dump and fill for the gas projects in Wyoming Co. and north of there… take a look north of the 8th street bridge on the west side of the Sus. River…… errie looking.

  • Bill

    Here is an update from the facebook site Easterninterastate81weatherauthority?

    Pretty interesting.

    ✳️ Special Report ✳️

    ** The Great NEPA Poo Caper of 2014 **

    So what exactly was that poop smell all over the Wyoming Valley yesterday?

    Was it the Suquehanna?

    One of our numerous landfills?

    Heck one of our moderators blames Obama!

    Originally we had Neil Degrasse Tyson lined up but he had a family emergency so instead
    we spoke with Peter Depuy PhD.

    Peter is from The Western Pennsylvania University of science and arts and is going to help us try and get some answers.

    Hello Peter,why don’t you start it off.

    “Hello Easterninterstate81weatherauthority,let me begin.”

    Please do.

    “Well for starters I think we can eliminate Obama,heck I like to blame him for everything under the sun but not this time.It just doesn’t add up.
    Plus I’m scared of the NSA.
    I also don’t buy that crap,(excuse my pun)that WNEP and the DEP are slinging around that it’s just the ground thawing.The ground doesn’t smell dummy!
    The ground thaws every year!
    It shouldn’t take a half rate university professor to tell you that….sheesh!Maybe that’s Tom and Noreen’s explanation I don’t know.”

    Ok so wheredoes that leave us?

    “I think we have three credible possibilities.”

    Lets explore what you told us.

    1) Fracking causing methane gas to build up underneath the frozen earth and escaping.

    “It’s been the coldest winter since we have had fracking in the area, I think this is very possible.Those Rednecks from Texas shoot every kind of chemical known to man down these wells to explode the rock so….well yeah duh!!”

    2) Sulfer from local mine fires.

    “We have had a couple more mine fires burning than in the recent past and with the air inversion yesterday it’s possible the gases settled in the lower atmosphere and were never able to escape.
    See down in West Virginia it stinks like crap all the time for that (and other)reason.Its bituminous coal fires sure,but it smells just as bad.Its unhealthy too,that’s why they are all a little…….a little….you get my point.
    Anyway you people lose about a quarter IQ point a month just by breathing the valley air.
    Add that up and I’m sure it’s a lot over a lifetime.”

    3) Vladimir Putin.

    “I mean c’mon he invaded The Ukraine and after all poo and Putin are pretty close.
    I believe it’s possible that Putin dropped a dirty bomb of the stinkiest kind over the valley”

    What about Malaysian airlines flight 370?

    “Its got nothing to do with this.It’s in the Indian Ocean.”

    Thanks for your time Peter.

    “You’re welcome Easterninterstate81weatherauthority.”

    Now everyone please
    share your theories from cow manure to space aliens to another local weather page stinking it up!
    Did you smell it today?

    • Beverly

      Hahaha I’ve been following these guys for a while… They not only give great weather updates, they’re also hilarious! Keep up the great work easterninterstate81weatherauthority!

  • Susan

    I called DEP today and spoke with a woman who told me they are absolutely sure that the odor is coming from decomposed vegetation. She told me that this happens ever year, usually late April though, and to varying degrees as to the strength of the odor. I tried to ask her why in all my years had I never smelled this particular smell before and she assured me this is something that happens all the time. I hope more people call in cause I would be interested to see if they get the same explanation I did.

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Whiskey bottles, and brand new cars
    Oak tree you’re in my way
    There’s too much coke and too much smoke
    Look what’s going on inside you
    Ooooh that smell
    Can’t you smell that smell
    Ooooh that smell
    The smell of death surrounds you

    • Jim Brony

      Right on David! You tell him! Remind him that the high gas prices, poor economy, joblessness, and destruction of the family came after years of hard work from the dumacrats. Keep up the great work!

  • Rachael

    I live in swoyersvile its smells horrible anf travel to Wilkes barre. The stench of that town is far worse.

  • N DeMark

    A few weeks ago, the odor was present in MT Top but not in the Bear Creek area. Both areas had snow on the ground and frozen soil, leaves. The odor was present in one area and not the other area with the same conditions. So, I don’t believe the ground rot theory. I still haven’t noticed an odor in Bear Creek and it is warming up.

    • janet thatcher

      i did notice the smell this morning in Bear Creek as I left for work. It reminded me of a pasture.

  • uncle stosh

    Ah I smelled it here in Plains. Kinda smells like that sewage plant near my cousin’s place up there in Johnson City NY the morning after halupki day. Might be an interstate problem?

  • Not Larry

    The first thing I would look at is the river. I’m hoping this isn’t something long term. We have been looking for warmer wether for 3 months now, let’s hope it doesn’t make it worse. That being said I, like many others are glad I’m not alone on this one. Thought I was going crazy, smelled it in Kingston, then Wilkes-Barre, and even Dallas. Very interested to know what they come up with.

  • Beef Supreme

    And you don’t no what caoused it. Noone has a P.H.D in ground gas. Do you. I didn’t think so.

  • Maddywash

    Kunkletown, Monroe county. Got out of car at home late afternoon and thought farmer behind us had spread manure. That was the exact odor. Now I’m wondering? I’m quite a distance from you guys.

  • sara

    Why does everything have to turn into a conspiracy theory. Pick up a science book and read it. I agree with the landscaper. I’m worried about the smell but it doesn’t mean people are out to get us. It can probably be explained with science rather than guessing.

  • Gus

    Check the landfill ? With all the gas drill waste that’s going to give us all cancer . Half of it goes in a fn hole in the ground anyways .

    • dmackie

      Larry needs medication – and he needs to stop writing comments, and he needs to go to sleep tonight – and get a job tomorrow !

  • stinky

    I had it 3 weeks ago, smelled like every neighbor around us, put “cow manure” in their yard!!!!! It was horrible to even walk outside to let the dogs out…

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