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Stinky Cloud Leaves Hell's Kitchen Residents Fuming

By Mathew Katz | February 12, 2013 6:45am | Updated on February 12, 2013 6:46am

HELL'S KITCHEN — A block in Hell's Kitchen is dealing with some bad gas.

Nearby residents are fuming over a cloud of stinky steam rising from a grate at the corner of West 56th Street and Eighth Avenue.

The stench started on Saturday, according to neighbors, with a cloud of putrid white fumes rising from a grate outside of Otarian Restaurant.

"It smells like fecal matter and the steam wafts up Eighth Avenue to West 57th Street," said one resident, who called 311 to complain about the smell.

"It is truly a rank, putrid odor."

By Monday morning, the grate was surrounded by Con Edison traffic cones, though a spokesman for the power company said the stench was likely a sewer issue, and that it had no defective equipment in the area.

An oily substance could be seen in the sewer below the grate. And while the grate had stopped steaming, the smell was still noticeable halfway down the block.

"It's a bad smell, oily, rotten, I don't know about feces-like, but it is a sickening odor," said Molly Wulkowicz, who lives down the block from the cloud of stench.

A manager at Otarian Restaurant said that he had also noticed the mysterious stink since Saturday, but that no customers had complained about it. 

The block is no stranger to smells. In the months since a few thousand gallons of No. 4 heating oil spilled into the basement on the nearby Sheffield building, clean-up trucks spewing black fumes have been a constant presence there, neighbors said.

It was unclear if the spill and the stinky cloud were connected. The city's Department of Environmental Protection, which deals with sewer contamination, did not respond to requests for comment.