This doesn’t stink! City says it will solve Owls Head smell

The Owls Head sewage plant isn't stinking as much. Now it's the noise that is bothering neighbors.

The city finally has a solution that might finally quench the stench that emanates from the Owls Head Wastewater Treatment Plant in Bay Ridge.

In an effort to contain the putrid odors that escape from the sewage plant in the northwest corner of the neighborhood, workers this summer will install tight-fitting aluminum covers over a cascading waterfall of barely treated sewage deemed responsible for more than 90 percent of Owls Head’s storied stink.

The planned covers will replace wood and steel canopies that were erected over the plant’s primary tank effluent launders two years ago in an attempt to temporarily quell odors on a shoestring budget while the agency sought funds for a more permanent remedy.

Money for the $800,000 project has recently been secured — just in nick of time, according to Department of Environmental Protection Assistant Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.

“We were only going to get three years out of [the existing covers]. They are warping,” he told Community Board 10 on May 18.

Sapienza promised that the new covers — which will close tightly around the tanks themselves, unlike the makeshift wooden canopies — might make the reek more meek.

“They are sealed — unlike the plywood covers that are just placed on top,” he noted.

Workers will remove the old canopies and install new covers on each of the nine tanks one at a time, so as to limit neighborhood exposure to the uncovered septic tubs, Sapienza added.

Installation of the new covers should be completed by September, after which the agency will put in a new odor-absorption system. A project to enlarge the plant’s “residuals handling” building is expected to be complete in late 2010, providing additional odor reductions, agency spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla wrote in an e-mail.

CB10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann celebrated the plans, which could help bring an end to neighbors’ ongoing complaints about fowl odors that waft from the plant into the similarly named Owls Head Park just across the Shore Parkway.

Even neighborhood gadfly Allen Bortnick — a longtime critic of Department of Environmental Protection policy — agreed that the new covers might finally stop the stink.

“It’s definitely going to be better,” he said. “If you cover the tank itself, you are containing the smell.”

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