UPDATE: The city is pointing the finger at a new power plant in West Deptford, N.J., for this sulfuric, urine-like mystery odor.
We’ve been getting consistent complaints recently about a smell described as cat urine that has been popping up along a stretch of South Philly. The reports have been coming mostly from south of Snyder Avenue, west of Broad, but reports stretch as far as Front and Ritner.
Our tipsters tell us that it’s been happening in some parts almost every day for about three weeks.
The Facebook group Taking Our South Philly Streets Back, which has received dozens of comments about the pungent odor, said Sunoco and PGW have ruled themselves out as culprits through air-quality tests. Apparently it’s been going on for weeks. Here’s a sampling of some of the comments:
I’m on the 300 block of Jackson and the smell of cat pee is so strong it almost knocks you out when we opened our doors!
I’ve lived here all 51 years of my life and in the same 5 block radius and never smelled this before. I thought a family of cats was living in my yard.
Ok thank God it’s not only me who smelled it. I walked in my bathroom and was like ewww.
Eww, indeed. One commenter found this article from North Carolina that said the smell is produced by a specific confluence of chemical manufacturing and environmental factors and that the weather can have a huge impact on when it happens. It doesn’t explain why it would be happening here and now though.
We left messages yesterday with Councilmen Mark Squilla and Kenyatta Johnson’s offices to see if we could get to the bottom of it. Squilla told us last night that he’d get the city’s Vector office to inspect, but that he will need specific locations. rep for Johnson didn’t respond.
UPDATE: Just heard from a rep from Johnson’s office. They’re on the case now too.
Meanwhile, have you smelled it? Where are you? Put your response in the comments, so we can get to the bottom of this.