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updated: 3/1/2011 5:23 PM

12 states warned about propane problems

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BOSTON - An Illinois-based gas distributor has warned officials in at least 12 states that some propane deliveries may have lacked enough of a chemical that gives a distinctive smell to the normally odorless gas, enabling homeowners to detect possible leaks.

Aux Sable Liquid Products said in a letter to public safety officials dated Sept. 8 and obtained by The Associated Press that the odorant is typically added at its Morris plant.

A company spokesman on Thursday confirmed the contents of the letter. He said the company was alerted to the potential problem by a customer who delivers the gas to smaller distribution centers.

"We were made aware that there were possibly some retail deliveries that were not sufficiently odorized," said Aux Sable spokesman Scott Seibert. He said the company is currently reviewing its propane odorization system.

The company said the propane could have been shipped to Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia and Vermont.

In the letter, Aux Sable said it has ceased shipments from the Illinois plant while it investigates. The company has alerted the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and local fire marshals and attorneys general in each of the states.

The company said it's working to ensure all future propane deliveries are tested.

The decision by Aux Sable to suspend shipments follows an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general's office into a fatal explosion in July at a condominium development in Norfolk, Mass.

The state fire marshal found a propane leak caused the blast that killed a construction worker. Other workers said they did not smell a leak. The propane was delivered to the site from a facility in Westfield, Mass.