Welcome to Cesspool?

by Kevin Mcbain

  • <p>KEVIN MCBAIN PHOTO</p><p>This is part of the swamp behind Sobey&#8217;s and between the Hank Snow Museum and Liverpool&#8217;s water treatment facility, an area that may be the source of the rank smell that has covered the community over the last three weeks.</p>
  • <p>KEVIN MCBAIN PHOTO</p><p>Liverpool resident Murray Cluett points out an area, where some of the smell that has covered Liverpool recently, may be coming from.</p>


Because of a lingering strong stench in the air, some residents are worried Liverpool may have to change its name to cesspool.

"It smells like sh_t. You can call it whatever you want," said Liverpool resident Murray Cluett using some salty language to describe the stink that has community residents up in arms. "And my sniffer doesn't work that well."

Cluett said at least one woman in Fort Point can't open her windows or relax on her deck because of the smell. "You may not get it every day because of the direction of the wind. But it's bad. We don't want our name to change to cesspool instead of Liverpool."

The issue of the smell came up at the Region of Queens Municipal Council meeting June 25, where Councillor Jack Fancy and Councillor Susan MacLeod addressed the issue. "This is not a natural smell," said MacLeod. "The odour is new and the intenseness is new."

Several residents near Bristol Avenue, near Fort Point Museum and along Highway 3 in Brooklyn have made complaints.

Region of Queens Mayor David Dagley disagreed that the smell is new and says that it occurs every year, but normally just for a week or so.

"The odour has certainly been strong and it is certainly offensive to neighbours and visitors," he said. "We're working through the process and have identified that it is not an issue caused by our wastewater treatment facility. All of our equipment is working well."

A representative from the Department of Environment visited the sewer treatment centre and the holding pond June 21 and gave the all clear. Staff has double-checked the systems and flushed out several sewer lines, just to eliminate the possibility that it is coming from a town facility.

According to Dagley, the smell is emitting from the swamp located near the treatment facility and the Hank Snow museum. Rotting leaves, grass and other organic materials create the stench, which may have been aggravated this year by the wet weather. Tidal flushing with salt water in the area may also make the smell worse.

"Staff are trying to determine if other areas have had similar problems this year and we will see it leads us in a direction that will help," Dagley said. "We can run off and spend large dollars chasing something like this, but it's nice to see what we should be looking for."

The wetland covers about 21 acres and could be more than 12 feet deep, according to Dagley and is a protected area, which means any recourse to alleviate the smell could get tied up in permits.

"This year it has been much more of a problem and when you are dealing with wetlands there are specific regulations that the federal and provincial governments have and no one touches it without a permit and permits are not normally issued very easily," he added.

He noted the Hank Snow Museum underwent a long process to fill in a part of the wetlands to expand their parking lot. MacLeod suggested this is a different circumstance. However, Dagley said it wouldn't matter what the circumstances are, it is still taking away part of the wetlands.

MacLeod suggested that they make use of some of the experts from the various groups in the province, such as the Mersey Tobeatic Research Centre, who could come and do some testing to determine the cause.

However, CAO Chris McNeill dismissed the idea, saying there wouldn't be much point considering no one knows what they would be testing for. He said town staff is working incrementally through a process to try and find the cause.

McNeill said, "What are we testing for? The air smells."

Councillor MacLeod, visibly upset, responded. "I can't believe you would say that. There is a situation and we're not accepting the smell. It is much different than it ever was. Couldn't we get someone to test the air quality?"

But McNeill disputed that bringing in people for testing would do anything besides telling council what they already know, "which is that it smells, there's organic materials there: We're operating a sewer treatment plant and we're meeting all the standards."

He added that testing the air and the soil wouldn't tell anyone what the source of the problem is.

Dagley said once staff determines the exact cause that he says they will look at the options to get things fixed.

"It's been a difficult spring with all of the rain that we have had. I share in the pain of all residents," said Dagley. "We certainly want this fixed as soon as we can."

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