We know where that smell in Tacoma is coming from. We’re not sure when it’ll go away.

It’s not an April Fools’ Day prank, the smell this weekend was real, and we know where it came from

A strong odor in downtown Tacoma this weekend was traced to the Tacoma Tideflats.
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A strong odor in downtown Tacoma this weekend was traced to the Tacoma Tideflats.

Some of the online chatter said it smelled like feces.

Others said death, or pet food.

Many on Facebook and Twitter asked where the strange odor that descended on Tacoma during the weekend came from.

The city and the Port of Tacoma had some answers Monday.

They confirmed that the source of the smell was a rendering plant on the Tacoma Tideflats.

The Darling International facility had an equipment failure during the weekend, the city’s Environmental Services Department said. A port spokeswoman said it was a broken gasket.

“They shut down operations impacted by the breakage and have been working on a repair,” port spokeswoman Katie Whittier told The News Tribune. “We are still gathering details on what led to the breakage and what repair actions are underway because as a term of their lease with us, they are expected to address odor issues immediately upon noticing them.”

Darling did not immediately respond to News Tribune requests for comment Monday.

It wasn’t immediately clear how long the odor was expected to linger, but there was some indication that it was improving Monday afternoon.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency got 70 complaints about the odor, the agency’s director of compliance Steve Van Slyke said.

Those started Sunday, were coming in steadily Monday morning and early afternoon, then appeared to be tapering off.

“If the rate of complaint receipt is an indicator, it looks like it may be dissipating,” Van Slyke said.

The agency had inspectors in the field Monday, who reported that the facility shutting down operations seemed to help.

Those inspectors are looking into whether the company properly maintained and operated the equipment, and whether the company is in compliance with its permits and air quality regulations

“What they’re trying to understand is what happened and why, how did you address it, and what are you going to do to prevent it from happening again,” Van Slyke said.

Staff writer Debbie Cockrell contributed to this report.