That rotten-egg smell spreading from the Inland Empire through the Southland most likely comes from the Salton Sea, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is telling the Los Angeles Times.
"I'm 99.9% sure it's the Salton Sea,'' spokeswoman Julie Hutchinson told the Times. "It's just a nasty, funky smell from the Salton Sea. … We've had it before.''
The Los Angeles Fire Department is investigating the smell that has spread across the San Gabriel Valley communities this morning, wafting from Palm Springs, Redlands, Moreno Valley and San Bernardino.
And @LAFDConversation Tweeted: “@LAFD aware of thoughts re Salton Sea as odor source, but because that site (+ odor) *vastly* beyond our jurisdiction, must rely on AQMD.”
However, Andrew Schlange, interim general manager of the Salton Sea Authority, is telling KNBC4 that it is not yet clear whether the inland sea near Indio is the culprit.
"We are in the process of trying to track it down," Schlange told the television station. It would be unusual for a fish die-off to cause odors so far away, he said.
However, Timothy Krantz, a professor in the University of Redlands’ Environmental Studies Program who studies the troubled lake, told the Desert Sun that sulfur dioxide builds up in the Salton Sea during the summer.
“When we get a wind event, such as yesterday’s southeasterly ‘Chubasco’ blowing up from the Gulf of California, it pushes the surface waters off, causing upwelling of the bottom sulphurous water layers, hence the rotten egg smell,” he said.
"Since around midnight last night, AQMD has received more than 100 calls reporting a strong, foul rotten egg/sulfur odor. Residents have complained from a very wide area including the Inland Empire and much of the Los Angeles Basin," spokesman Sam Atwood of the Air Quality Management District said.
Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey reports that the "LAFD is not aware of any specific hazard associated with the odor. There is no need to call 9-1-1 to report this widespread odor."
"Fish kills, algae blooms and other biologic conditions in lakes can cause strong odors. Industrial facilities such as wastewater plants also can cause sulfur odors," the AQMD's Atwood said. "At this time AQMD hasn’t confirmed any source as the cause of the widespread odor."