Local firm provides solution to smelly situation in France

Derek Cameron of Scotmas, Kelso with Anthium Dioxide which was sent to France at the weekend to neutralise the gas leak.
Derek Cameron of Scotmas, Kelso with Anthium Dioxide which was sent to France at the weekend to neutralise the gas leak.

A KELSO firm enacted the spirit of the Auld Alliance last week, but its support actually benefited the English as well as the French.

Bosses at chemical company Scotmas rushed to the aid of a French firm on Friday to kill off a horrendous stench which was wafting over the Channel to England.

The stink of rotten eggs, sweat and garlic had been choking millions of people in the north of France and south of England for most of last week, after a chemical plant at Rouen sprung a leak.

However, with the help of the Borders firm and four tonnes of its chemical solution Anthium Dioxide, the odour was successfully neutralised.

Scotmas chief executive Derek Cameron said: “I got a call early on Friday morning and the four tonnes were on their way within a matter of hours.

“We pulled all the stops out to get the consignment away as quickly as possible. We really didn’t want people to have to breathe that sort of horrible odour for a minute longer than necessary.”

Fortunately for all involved, the chemical solution, used as a spray, had an almost immediate effect and destroyed the cause of the smell at source.

Mr Cameron added: “It’s probably the first time in history that the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France has actually benefited the English.

The smelly situation started when the chemical plant in Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy, started to emit substances called mercaptans.

This is normally added to natural gas – which doesn’t smell of anything – so that potentially dangerous leaks can be detected.

Although harmless, the substance is incredibly pungent and can be detected in concentrations as low as one part in nearly three million.

The smell was so bad that a football match between Rouen and Olympique Marseille in the French Cup had to be postponed as the air was too foul for the game to be played.

But because of the way the wind was blowing, the nauseous gas drifted north over the English Channel and quickly started to envelop the south of England.

The first people in the UK to be hit by the pong were in Kent and Sussex, but it then spread to London and eventually reached as far north as Northampton and west to Dorset.

Daily calls to the National Grid rose tenfold to 100,000 and fire brigades received dozens of call-outs from concerned residents in the affected areas.

In some places there was panic as people desperately tried to find what they thought were gas leaks in their own homes.