At Owls Head, the stink remains the same

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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 or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at @dsmacleod.
Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

tee gee from sunset park says:
I would like to echo Ms. Petty's remarks - why can't we solve this. In fact, I'd like to add, I have been on I-80 in NJ and suddenly said "wow, it smells like a toilet out here". I sped up and found two large hauling rigs about a half mile ahead of me and sure enough they were labeled "municipal waste". The smell is the very distinct solid waste "treated" leftover from water pollution control plants. can this be good for everyone that is inhaling this air during transport.

And one last issue - at least 3 out of 7 times that i go thru the Holland Tunnel, I see NYC sanitation trucks taking our household waste somewhere. Why are we paying sanitation workers to drive this trash out of state? Why are we covering the cost of using these trucks and gasoline for this transporting? And what about the cost in accidents - especially in rainy weather or during the snow season?

All NYC household trash should be shipped out of the city, not driven.

And NJ towns should find a better, less contaminating method for transporting the final result of their water waste treatment final solid waste.

And back to Owl's Head - it is criminal in my mind that the city has not done better. Any one who tours Owl's Head finds that they had to replace almost all iron in the building with stainless steel (handrails, doors, window frames, etc) because the other metals rotted & corroded too easily from the gases....imagine the lungs of humans along Shore Road.
Oct. 26, 2011, 11:09 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
There isn't anything there that didn't come out of you!

Iron corroded on the waterfront, where there's salt water? Who ever heard of such a thing!

Some people don't know the difference between the sewage treatment plant, and the smell of low tide.

Petty moved here after the plant was built - maybe she should find another place.
Oct. 26, 2011, 5:41 pm
Eazy D from Sheepshead Bay says:
The most offensive odor is Norman Odor.
Oct. 26, 2011, 8:57 pm
Tommy says:
Owl Head Waste Water Treatment must move away from bay ridge if they can't fix the odor
March 18, 2013, 6:28 am

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