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SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Authorities say a foul odor that spurred calls to fire departments throughout the city on Sunday is possibly the result of the large release of methane in the Santa Monica Bay.

Santa Monica Fire said in a department statement that they believe the strong odor was caused by a naturally occurring methane leak below the ocean floor.

“This morning there was a large release of natural ocean floor methane released in the Santa Monica Bay,” the statement said. “This methane is not toxic and dissipates quickly.”

Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the Air Quality Management District (AQMD), said his agency has not confirmed that theory.

Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Fire Department, said the odor was noted inland from the Santa Monica Bay.

Last September, a widespread sulfurous stench that blanketed parts of the Southland was apparently traced back to a biological occurrence on the landlocked Salton Sea.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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