Smell that? Columbia Gas investigating strange odor across central Ohio

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Across Central Ohio Tuesday, a strange odor hung in the air.

According to Columbia Gas and the Columbus Fire Department, several dozen calls came in complaining of an odor across the city. The city of Worthington and Delaware County Emergency Management also acknowledged they’d received calls.

The cause of the odor isn’t known at this time, but Columbia Gas is investigating. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency also told NBC4 it has staff in the field looking into the source of the odor.

According to the National Weather Service, a temperature inversion is causing odors and pollutants to be trapped close to the ground in Central Ohio.

Callers to 911 described the problem.

“I left my house because I walked outside of it and I about got knocked out by the smell of gas,” one caller said.

Another caller perceived a different smell.

“It smells like decomposition,” that caller said. I mean, it is horrible. It’s not a rotten egg smell. It is like death.”

One 911 call taker said he would “get someone out there to take a smell at it and see what happens.”

A lot of people said they thought the smell might be coming from Chillicothe’s paper mill. The smell was familiar to Jonathan Cooper, who said he grew up on E. Como Avenue in Clintonville.

“Certain days, when the wind blew right, we would smell the Chillicothe paper mill,” Cooper said. “It’s always unpleasant, but it’s like an old friend—it always comes back.”

A spokesperson for the Glatfelter paper mill in Chillicothe said the mill has not experienced any operational issues and has inspected all its systems, including venting. No issues were found.

Columbia Gas encourages people to continue calling 1-800-344-4077 if they think they smell something. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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