This stinks! City finishes Owls Head upgrades, but odors not gone for good

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

The city has spent $50 million to get rid of the foul stench that wafts from the Owls Head sewage treatment plant in Bay Ridge, but — hold your breath — even after the expensive retrofit, it still can’t guarantee that the horrendous smell will be gone for good.

The Department of Environmental Protection hopes that the latest addition to the 60-year-old facility — a building which contains five tanks that stores the sludge pulled from the 100-million gallons of raw sewage the plant treats each day — would finally clear the air, but an agency spokesman said the plant still may be responsible for some not-so-fragrant one-cheek sneaks.

“We can’t promise that there will never be another odor,” said spokesman Michael Saucier. “But we have taken some big steps in the past two years that will help ensure odors are kept to a minimum.”

But residents say those steps have done little to quench the stench that famously emanates from the plant, and they aren’t holding out much hope that the latest “improvement” will do anything.

“I cannot jump for joy,” said Eleanor Petty, who has lobbied the city to plug the odor since moving to her Shore Road apartment in 2002. “I’ve been through this for too long.”

The Owls Head plant has been the bane of many Ridgites’s noses for years, because older tanks that held the smelly sludge were outdoors. In 2007, the city added covers on some of the tanks, and in 2008 it installed a “flare” to burn off excess gas.

Still, some hold out hope that the newest odor containment system will finally clear the air during the summer, when the smell is at its worst.

“Hopefully this is it,” said Community Board 10 Chairwoman Joanne Seminara, “It’s been consistently bad, especially when the weather is hot and humid.”