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Locals: City dragging feet at Owls Head

The Brooklyn Paper
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Nearly a year has passed since Mayor Bloomberg promised to staunch the stench from the Owls Head Water Pollution Control Plant, and the update is … it still stinks.

“No one seems to want to do anything about it,” said Bill Wixted, who has lived near the plant, located on Shore Road by 67th Street, for 40 years.

Like Wixted, neighbor Eileen Gallagher reminisces fondly of the days when she could open her windows to the breeze off the Narrows.

“Now, I keep my windows shut all the time,” said Gallagher, who has lived on Shore Road and 68th Street since 1981. “I think the smell has gotten continually worse.”

Since at least the 1980s, residents have complained of a sewage-like odor emanating from the wastewater station.

The 54-year old plant, one of 14 across the city, processes 120 million gallons of dirty water every day.

It serves nearly 800,000 residents — but the unlucky ones who live nearby suffer the stench.

And their elected officials suffer the complaints — and they’re getting fed up, too.

“The mayor made a major proclamation last winter [but] we’re coming up on the end of that year with literally nothing done on this issue,” said City Councilman Vince Gentile (D-Bay Ridge).

“They’re dragging their feet.”

For its part, the Department of Environmental Protection defends its approach, saying it wants to do the job right.

“We have hired a consultant to do an odor survey of the entire plant and the surrounding community,” said department spokeswoman Natalie Millner.

She said that preliminary investigation is focusing on open-topped machines called launders, which disinfect wastewater.

“[We’re] evaluating methods for covering [them],” she said.

The survey should be completed by the end of October, Millner added.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the community will trust the agency’s findings. Gentile is calling for an independent analysis.

“We don’t [want to] end up going back and forth with our saying there is a problem, and them saying there isn’t a problem,” he said.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

ms from bay ridge/sunset border says:
It's now February 2008, and the smell has worsened. Not only is the smell stronger at times, it seems to be emitted more frequently. During a brief period of time when work was appently being done on the plant, our windows were able to stay wide open. Not only was there no stench, but the air actually had a fresh and dewey scent to it, like grass and soil, can you imagine?!? This seemed impossible living near the onramp to the BQE... however as soon as the stench returned, so did the beautiful fresh, fragrant air disappear.
Feb. 21, 2008, 3:27 pm

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