‘It made my stomach actually hurt’: Henrico residents alarmed over strong gas smell

Taking Action

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — 8News is taking action after residents in Henrico’s East End sent in videos of water bubbling up from the ground. Residents said the bubbling water is accompanied by a strong odor of natural gas coming from a nearby car lot.

The car lot is located on the intersection of East Nine Mile Road and Hanover Road. People in the area told 8News the smell comes and goes but has been persistent over the years.

“It made my stomach actually hurt,” Henrico resident Krista Bayer said. “Your windows could be closed, you could have air conditioning on and it’s very strong.”

The owner of a nearby convenience store called Brothers Market told 8News the smell is really strong and that at first, they thought there was a leak in their store.

8News reached out to Richmond Gas Works last week to discuss the issue. Jonathan Snyder said they sent someone out to investigate and found that natural gas was seeping from the pipe due to the pipe’s loose joints.

RGW said that crews tightened the screws last week. 8News uncovered that many of these pipes are older and need an update, but budget and priority are deciding factors.

Water is bubbling when poured on the ‘hot spots’ because gas is lighter than air which causes the gas to rise and the bubbles to form, RGW said.

“It’s been going on long enough that I’m like why keep calling,” Bayer told 8News. “I guess even in some ways I’ve gotten use to it.”

The intersection of East Nine Mile Road and Hanover Road has been having maintenance issues since 2016 and is now identified as a “renewal area.” At this point, however, there is no timetable for when the pipes will be replaced.

When dealing with natural gas leaks, the worst-case scenario is an explosion. Richmond Gas Works said safety is their number one priority.

Since natural gas is odorless, crews add a substance to natural gas lines to create a smell when it leaks. So if you smell something, report it at (804)646-4646.

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