French gas leak leaves bad smell over Wheathampstead

Wheathampstead High Street

Wheathampstead High Street - Credit: Archant

A FOUL smell caused by a gas leak in France wafted its way across the Channel this week and residents in Wheathampstead are said to have caught a whiff.

The stink, which has been likened to rotten eggs, is thought to have hit parts of the county on Wednesday (January 23) after a gas cloud escaped from a factory near Rouen in northern France.

While concerned members of the public began alerting police to the peculiar pong, health experts quickly reassured them there was no need to panic as it was in fact harmless.

Rachel Jeffrey, who owns a jewellery business in Mill Walk, Wheathampstead, said her nostrils first filled with the odour on Wednesday.

She commented: “We were going round like hound dogs sniffing everything. We just thought it was our problem and it was coming from our drain.

“It is just a horrible smell. It is not as strong as a stink bomb.”

Herts Police confirmed they had received several calls about the stench and were advising people to contact the fire service and gas companies.

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In a statement issued on Tuesday a spokesman for the Health Protection Agency said: “The chemical leaked from a factory in Rouen, France, yesterday and has blown across the Channel overnight.

“It is not toxic and has also been diluted before entering the air over England, so people should be reassured it will cause no harm.

“It is an unpleasant odour which may cause some people to feel slightly nauseous but it will dispel naturally.”