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Foul odor stinks up northern France

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 22, 2013 at 8:05 a.m.

— A foul-smelling cloud of gas escaped from a factory in northern France on Tuesday, making life unpleasant from the outskirts of Paris to Britain’s shores and prompting scores of emergency calls.

France’s Interior Ministry released a statement saying the gas escaping from the Rouen chemical factory is harmless. Among other uses, mercaptan is added to otherwise odorless municipal gas to alert people of leaks.

Winds carried the smell across hundreds of square miles.

Police in the coastal English town of Hastings reassured residents in a tweet with the hashtag “noneedtopanic” that mercaptan from Rouen was the likely cause of the odor. London police also said they’d received reports of a gas smell from several parts of the city.

The factory in the northern city of Rouen is owned by Lubrizol, a subsidiary of investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

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