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What WAS That Smell? Marsh Gas, Napa County Says

Why did the air smell like manure all over Napa Thursday? County staff got the lowdown from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on the stinky state project that's sending marsh gas odors our way.

The that invaded nostrils all over the city Thursday appears to have been solved, thanks to some digging (for information) by Napa County workers.

Those who detected a bovine influence to the atmosphere were on the right track, according to an email from county public information officer Elizabeth Emmett that afternoon:

Staff checked in with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to see what BAAQMD knew about the organic odor that is wafting over Napa County today. 

Staff there suggested that the source of the smell is the Cullinan Ranch Marsh Restoration Project. 

In a nut shell, the State is restoring the area, which is currently a cattle ranch, to a tidal flux area. Currently they are digging up old soil, which is releasing “marsh gas” (which has a sulphur smell). The gas is heavy and influenced by wind patterns.

The location of the project is at Hwy 37 at the Mare Island Bridge.  Additional information can be found at http://restorecullinan.info/intro.aspx.

Some Patch readers took issue with the "sulphur" description, which may have been a BAAQMD euphemism for the four-letter barnyard word that was on many of our minds as the stench pervaded.

A shift in the wind appears to have cleared the air today.

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Louisa Hufstader August 24, 2012 at 01:50 AM
No spraying in our area, Mark. You'll get plenty of warning if that ever comes up: Folks in Napa have been resolutely opposed and it would be a major flap.
Louisa Hufstader August 24, 2012 at 01:52 AM
LOL, Judy! This does smell to me a lot like I would imagine long-rotted cow manure being dug out of a saltmarsh WOULD smell, though that just could be government mind control.
Louisa Hufstader August 24, 2012 at 02:14 AM
I did a little online research: Sulphur or sulfur apparently is not a component of marsh gas, which is chiefly made up of methane, as far as I can discover.
Louisa Hufstader August 24, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Maybe the BAAQMD is using it as a euphemism for the unprintable word we all had on our minds throughout the day.
Shay maiden August 24, 2012 at 05:58 AM
We were in Sonoma yesterday, my family and I, out near the northwest part of town. We opted to sit inside a restaurant vs outside because of the same odor we smelled in Napa. We assumed the wineries were into some heavy fertilizing this time of year, judging by the smell, and let it go. If the odors stem from this project, how could they spread over so many miles? I read the smell spanned to Fairfield, and I smelled it in Sonoma, that is quite a distance.

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