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Smelling is believing at this sewage plant

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Greenpoint’s noxious Newtown Creek sewage treatment plant will lose its notorious stink, city officials promised last month.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd announced on Jan. 23 that the city’s upgrade and expansion of the facility would knock out the smell by adding chlorination tanks and enclosing the open-air treatment basins.

Some residents were open-minded about that promise, but others were skeptical.

“If everything works the way it is supposed to, we should be an odor-free community by the end of the year,” said Christine Holowacz of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee.

Dewey Thompson, a member of Community Board 1’s Waterfront Committee, was less convinced. “I can’t imagine a sewage treatment plant that won’t smell like sewage,” he said. “I’d like to believe what the commissioner said, but my nose says ‘no.’”

Thompson wasn’t the only skeptic. Dubious questions came fast and furious at the meeting, prompting plant superintendent James Pynn to admit that the city does not actually monitor odor at the plant because odor cannot be quantified scientifically. Simply put, only the nose knows.

“Odor is a perceptible nuisance, but it’s not a health hazard,” Pynn said.

Greenpointers have good reason to be skeptical about the city’s promises. In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg pledged to staunch the stench at the Owls Head sewage treatment plant in Bay Ridge — but two years later, residents there are still complaining about the smell.

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Reader Feedback

Melissa from Canarsie says:
Any such plans for the Paerdageat sewage treatment plant in Canarsie? I went to school across the street at South Shore and I remember the awful smell in the summer like sulfur or something. Gross!
Feb. 6, 2009, 12:18 am

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