Could Wilmington’s ‘cat urine smell’ soon be gone for good?


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — If you live in the Wilmington area, you’ve probably noticed a foul chemical smell at one time or another. However, there could be a solution in the works.

It’s been described as the ‘cat urine’ smell. Some nights, it seems to permeate the entire City of Wilmington.

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“The executives that came to my legislative office suggested that it affected some people very strongly and that others couldn’t detect it at all. And I said, ‘well those people must be deceased,'” said Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover).

Butler says after citizens complained to the Department of Air Quality, the DAQ determined the smell was coming from Fortron Industries, a factory on US Highway 421 in New Hanover County.

“Apparently the odor comes from a process of washing plastics in acetone. And acetone as it degrades gives off this pretty horrific odor,” Butler said.

Rep. Butler says the DAQ has ordered Fortron to come up with a plan of action by September 4. She says she’s been in contact with executives at the company who told her they think they have found a solution.

“They believe the issue to be with some pressure release valves on the system. They tell me that they have been authorized to buy state of the art valves and that Fortron will shut down the end of September to install these new valves,” Butler said.

Rep. Butler says if the new valves do not fix the issue, Fortron will have to go back to the drawing board. She also encourages anyone who notices the odor to contact the Department of Air Quality.