Imaginary skunks of South SF

Late at night, if you’re driving south down 101 from San Francisco, you might smell the weird smell that hovers around South San Francisco and Millbrae. For years I thought vaguely that it smelled the way that a skunk smells when it gets run over. But since I don’t like to think of roadkill I imagined that Millbrae must have an unusually large population of skunks who get startled easily… late at night.

The other day it hit me that NO, there’s no skunks. There’s big factories of some kind and they release their weird stinky chemical emissions late at night. Right when I’m driving by!

It bums me out. I fear for everyone’s lungs, especially the people who live nearby and who inhale that stuff every night while they’re asleep. I hope the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is on it. Also, I grieve for the forests full of frolicking, happy, wild skunks that my brain conjured up at 2am so many times as I whooshed past the lagoons and ghostly billboards. Ah, lost innocence. (Forests? In Millbrae? What was I thinking?)

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3 Comments so far

  1. Charles r.sears II (unregistered) on March 6th, 2007 @ 10:52 am

    I live in downtown SF and when then wind blows in the right direction..I too thought about shunk roadkill,or a skunk has been out on the street and just sprayed a cat or a dog. Now I know that it is factories thanks to you.I appreciate your writing and letting me know what I smell from time to time.I thought it was my in the big City..and me not having smelled skunks since my last trip back East to Delaware to visit the family.They live in the rural South,and there are farms and opposums and skunks galore.It is nice to know about the factories..but who are they? And what are they making that imitates the smell of skunk that wafts into the City and South of it? We create more questions by commenting and making our statements,I am afraid.

  2. Liz Henry (unregistered) on March 6th, 2007 @ 11:14 am

    Even though I live in Redwood City right near downtown and the train station, we have possums and raccoons living under our house! So maybe there’s some skunks… somewhere… Can’t possibly be *that many* though.

    I remember seeing a web page somewhere that had a list of Bay Area companies and the # of tons of emissions they release on average every night. Looked for that page, couldn’t find it. Maybe someone else will know and will put it here in the comments!

  3. TinMan (unregistered) on March 6th, 2007 @ 2:37 pm


    They might have some data.

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