By Joe Holden


CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — Delaware County is turning to high-tech tools to help them track down a mysterious smell. Finding the culprit has been anything but easy.

The smell has been harassing residents for months.

The odor comes at random and it has been reported all over the county. It is believed to originate in Chester, most likely by the river. Officials also say the smell only happens during the weekdays.

Officials in Delaware County are determined to get at the source.

“We really don’t know where it is right now. It’s been a persistent issue throughout Delaware County,” Regional Director of Department of Environmental Protection Patrick Patterson said.

Weather stations were installed over the weekend atop two Chester schools. Intel and data will guide firefighters on calls.

Credit: CBS3

The Department of Environmental Protection has also assigned a field officer to respond.

“Proximity. It’s an odor complaint and some times they’re longer-lasting than others, and it’s really important that we are able to respond in real-time,” Patterson said.

Patience is wearing thin. Reports of natural gas smells across the county have spiraled since June.

“This odor is getting in people’s homes. We’ve had a couple of scenarios where we’ve evacuated schools because it gets in the system and then all throughout the building. It becomes a real mess,” Chester Fire Commissioner William Rigby said.

At the county level, officials like Tim Boyce are adding more resources to figure it out.

“We have a lot of people working on this, this is a tri-state effort,” Boyce said. “DEP, EPA, the District Attorney’s Office — we are all engaged to find the source. I find it hard to believe whoever is releasing the product doesn’t know. That said, we do not have a suspect.”

When firefighters do go out to calls for the odor, they’ll be fed data from two weather stations in Chester. That will give them guidance on wind direction, which will help them better track down the origin of the smell.