Westlake residents’ concerns with natural gas leak in neighborhood

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 2:05 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A local neighborhood’s big fear: the odor of natural gas, with no apparent cause.

Westlake residents near Beech Street say their neighborhood has been overtaken by the stench of rotten eggs - what they say is a natural gas leak.

“It was very strong. I was out here washing my car and it was super strong,” said Westlake resident Betsy Venable.

“The smell is so strong sometimes - I have sitters that sit with my mom 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they are seriously scared to get out of their cars sometimes it’s so bad,” Theresa Billups said.

Theresa Billups’s concern is for her 93-year-old mother who lives in the area.

Neighbors say the problem existed before Hurricane Laura made landfall and maintain they’ve been reporting the issue for months.

A continuous aroma many are tired of sniffing, but city leaders who manage and operate these utilities claim the problem is being handled.

“It’s a very, very small leak,” Westlake Mayor Bob Hardey said. " We put odorant in it just for this to where we can tell if there’s a problem and we want to find it.”

Since natural gas is odorless and tasteless, a harmless substance is added so a leak can be detected, as in this case.

“There’s no big hazard here. We are gonna stay on it, dig a little bit more, do a little more exploring,” said Mayor Hardey.

“No it’s definitely something to worry about because I smell it almost every day, in the afternoon usually,” Venable said.

“Oh, I find that very interesting that they are going to continue to monitor it when it’s been a year and a half. My fear is that it is going to get into the drains. That’s my biggest fear is that it’s going to blow something up,” said Billups.

City leaders still trying to ease any worry.

“There’s no concern right now with the amount because we’ve looked at her meter, looked around the house, and now it’s about finding the leak somewhere in the yard,” Mayor Hardey said.

Mayor Hardey says the next step is to start digging exploratory holes and isolate certain sections of pipe to pinpoint where the leak is coming from.

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