He smelt it, they dealt it — but city says it will now fix Owls Head stench

This stinks! City finishes Owls Head upgrades, but odors not gone for good
Photo by Ted Levin

City officials will finally cover two stinky tanks at the Owls Head sewage treatment plant — but locals should expect a few more bad days before the stench can finally be stanched.

Aluminium covers will be installed over the tanks in the northwest corner of the neighborhood by Memorial Day, according to Vincent Sapienza, an assistant commissioner with the Department of Environmental Protection.

“These have better odor fighting technology,” said Sapienza, referring to the replacement for the current steel and plywood covers.

That said, Sapienza told Community Board 10 last week that “episodes of intense odor” should still be expected until the system is completely operational.

As such, residents are not ready to stop and smell the roses.

“The city has lied to us in the past,” said community board member Allen Bortnick, who called previous efforts to cover up the smell as “the equivalent of a drop ceiling.”

“The city doesn’t know the difference between feces and Shinola,” Bortnick added.

Board 10 Chairwoman Joanne Seminara was more diplomatic.

“We seem to be in striking distance of finishing, so I am hopeful we are closing in on the end,” she said, adding, “It’s kind of amazing that the tanks were not covered in the first place — that’s what we’ve been clamoring about for years.”

Last May, Sapienza announced the city would begin covering the nine tanks with the $800,000 aluminum covers, replacing the temporary and ineffective wooden domes that insufficiently contained the smell, generated by the lightly treated sewage splashing about inside.

The full $39-million project to replace mechanical and electrical equipment will be completed by November, Sapienza said.