Garbage Truck Full Of Educational Scratch-N-Sniff Natural Gas Cards Freaks Town Out

Responsible thing: An energy company sending out scratch-and-sniff cards that smell like natural gas so customers can learn to identify the smell in case of a leak. Unfortunate thing: An entire box of said cards compressed in a garbage truck that then travels through town and makes residents think there’s a widespread gas leak.

Several reports of a natural gas smell in a Montana town this morning led to the evacuation of several buildings in the downtown area, reports the Great Falls Tribune. But all that worry was for naught, said a general manager at the local energy company. He says workers came across extra boxes of cards while cleaning out a storage area, and chucked them in the trash.

“They were expired, and they were old,” he said. “They threw them into the Dumpsters.”

From there, sanitation trucks picked up the cards and crushed them, in effect, turning the compressor into a giant finger that scratched all those smelly cards. Cue freaked out townspeople calling the energy company to report gassy smells around the town.

Just to be safe, workers checked things out downtown for possible gas leaks, in case of a freak coincidence.

The company has apologized for the problem, with the manager noting that hey, at least people know what gas smells like.

“In a sense, it worked the way it was supposed to,” he said of all those calling in to report the gas smell.

Energy West official: Scratch-and-sniff cards to blame for gas smell in downtown Great Falls [Great Falls Tribune]