At Owls Head, the stink remains the same

At Owls Head, the stink remains the same
Arthur De Gaeta

The city has spent $50 million over the last three months in a failed attempt to fully contain the stink emanating from a Bay Ridge sewage treatment plant, say neighbors living downwind from the bog of intermittent stench.

“It still occasionally smells and when it does, it’s really bad,” said Eleanor Petty, who on Shore Road near Owls Head Park.

Others agreed.

“It hasn’t really lessened it to a great degree,” said Allen Bortnick, who lives on Shore Road and 72nd Street. “The smell still emanates. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it’s not that good.”

The nearly 60-year-old plant treats up to 120 million gallons of noxious sludge per day, and has long been a thorn in the side of its neighbors — even after older outdoor tanks were moved indoors. In 2007, the city added covers on some of the tanks, and in 2008 it installed a “flare” to burn off excess gas.

In July, the Department of Environmental Protection said that the construction of a building which contains five tanks that store the sludge would finally clear the air, but an agency spokesman admitted that the plant still may be responsible for some not-so-fragrant one-cheek sneaks.

Still, the city claims that complaints are down.

“[Recent improvements] have gone a long way toward minimizing odors at Owls Head,” said city spokesman Michael Saucier, who said that in 2010, there were 141 complaints about the smell, while so far this year, there are only 43. “Though odors still exist due to occasional maintenance issues or weather, we will keep doing what we can to make sure we are being good neighbors.”

But those neighbors say that for all the money the city spent, there should be some way to eradicate the stench — for good.

“In the history of mankind, waste products have been a problem throughout the world,” said Petty. “How is it that in 2011, we cannot conquer this? I don’t understand why science or technology has not caught up with this.”

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at [email protected] or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at @dsmacleod.

Eleanor Petty says that the Owls Head sewage treatment plant still stinks.
Arthur De Gaeta