[Our liveblog from City Hall is below, under the poll]
Folks who smelled the sticky sweet smell yesterday, your cries were heard: City officials are holding a press conference at 11 a.m. to discuss the origins of the mysterious maple syrup smell... dunh dunh DUNH.
The smell has confused us as well as captured our imagination. Conspiracy theories multiplied: "It's a factory in NJ," "It's the smell of a de-icer," "Diners are trying to boost business for breakfast items." Past smellings include October 2005, March 2006, November 2006, November 2007, May 2008, January 5, 2009 and last week—not to mention yesterday in the Gramercy/Madison Square Park/ Midtown area. Plus there was a November 2007 cameo on 30 Rock.
We're headed to City Hall now and will file reports. If only we had a groundhog assistant.
At City Hall: Reporters are cracking jokes about this week—given that the Mayor was bitten by a groundhog and all—and how this special press conference was scheduled. Fun fact: City Hall security didn't even know about this last minute press conference!
There is an easel, which means a map or smell-graph (Updatehere's the map). OEM Commissioner Joe Bruno is on the scene.
Preview: It's from NEW JERSEY.
Mayor Bloomberg is here. He's happy about the news that NYC high school students taking AP exams are doing well.
Bloomberg, who has not put on a Sherlock Holmes cap, says that NYC, NY and NJ agencies have been working together to solve the maple syrup smell mystery (he says "maple sugar"). He emphasizes it's not a health hazard.
The Mayor is detailing how the OEM put together the data about the ester (aka the smell reaction from the organic compound) from the past few years. He listed the clues:
1) Most complaints came from UWS and Morningside Heights
2) Winds were moving from West to East
3) Winds at the time were also blowing at a specific speed--fast enough to move smells across the river but not fast enough to disperse the smell.
4) OEM compiled list of smelly factories (okay, odor-producing factories)
Mayor Bloomberg: "It's just one of the many aromas we're going to have to live with. I can think of a few things worse than maple syrup." He considers the case CLOSED and thinks the hero is 311, due to all the calls to the system querying the smell. On to the map!
Questions: The Mayor isn't sure if Frutarom is the only company producing this smell. He likes maple syrup on his French toast. He says the cost of the investigation is negligible—it's part of what the city does.
When asked how the city knew the smell isn't dangerous, the Mayor pointed out that there were no reports at hospitals. Bloomberg said the city has 60,000 data points daily and a health-issue was noted, the city would have put it together. Another reporter asked if this would further degrade New Jersey's image; Mayor Bloomberg, ever the diplomat, pointed out there are lovely parts of the Garden State, adding that there are parts of Willets Point are really polluted, too (self-slam?).
We just asked the Mayor if there was any thought of a maple syrup smell warning system—alerts when Frutarom processed the fenugreek seeds. He said no, so the next time we smell it we'll have to assume it's either from Frutarom or we're going crazy.
CityRoom reports there was no answer at Frutarom's offices. The Mayor does not believe he'll think about the smell again, even when he's enjoying French toast or pancakes. Also: Bloomberg has never smelled the mysterious scent.
The mayor is now fielding questions about Wall Street pay, high earners leaving the state, his 2009 campaign spending, capping executive pay, etc.