2017-11-03 / Front Page

Odor raises ire of Iris Drive residents

Sanitary District searching for solutions for increased smell near Pine Point pump station
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Residents who live around the Scarborough Sanitary District pump station at 138 Pine Point Road have, for years, complained about the smell of sewer wafting into their neighborhood. Sanitary District Superintendent David Hughes is in the midst of putting into place a plan that will mitigate and remove the odor. (Michael Kelley photo) Residents who live around the Scarborough Sanitary District pump station at 138 Pine Point Road have, for years, complained about the smell of sewer wafting into their neighborhood. Sanitary District Superintendent David Hughes is in the midst of putting into place a plan that will mitigate and remove the odor. (Michael Kelley photo) When Hillarie McClure heads into the backyard of her Iris Drive home, she doesn’t find tranquility, but rather an unpleasant smell emanating from the Eastern Trail pump station, one-third of a mile away.

McClure is not alone. She and her neighbors have been complaining about the odor for the past two years to no avail, but Scarborough Sanitary District Superintendent David Hughes said he has a plan in place to solve the naturally occurring issue.

“The pump station at the Eastern Trail on Pine Point Road is emitting a very terrible smell and it is totally ruining the quality of life for us,” Mc- Clure said.

“We’ve been complaining about it for two years now and it is getting worse. Before you might smell it only occasionally when the wind changed and blew just the right way. Now we smell it every day and it is strong,” she added.

Hughes is attuned to the residents’ complaints.

“I can understand the residents’ frustrations down there, it seems to have gotten worse in the last year to year and a half,” Hughes said. “It is something the district has been well aware of as a source of odor for many years. It is something I started looking into three years ago in terms of different technology we could use.”

Hughes said he feels the district has put a “solid” three-prong plan in place to abate the odor, prevent production of the odor and lastly reduce the material coming into the system that causes the generation of the odor.

The odor is caused by hydrogen sulfide, a naturally occurring highly odorous gas that is created in an anaerobic environment (one that lacks oxygen) as wastewater is pumped from pump station 1 by Snow Canning Road toward Blue Point School, where it is discharged into gravity sewers that flow into pump station 2. Hughes said the marsh also produces hydrogen sulfide, but knows the sewer system is also a cause of the odor.

The first part of the plan, to abate the smell, was put into place Aug. 15. At their September meeting, Hughes told Scarborough Sanitary District Trustees the new system designed by Vapex is designed to release a fog to remove the odor.

Hughes said additional modifications need to be done but the system is 80 percent effective in treating the smell.

The second part of the plan will be done at pump station 1 this fall or winter.

“The biggest solution is going to come from what we are doing at pump station 1 by Snow Canning Road,” Hughes said. “What we are doing is we are going to be pumping in liquid oxygen into the waste water as it flows in to prevent it from producing hydrogen sulfide.”

Hughes said the trustees have spent more than $150,000 to solve the issue.

“I am proud and excited about the work we are doing, but I know it is not coming quickly enough,” Hughes said.

McClure said the smell is still lingering.

“Whatever was done may have exasperated the issue actually,” she said.

McClure said she cannot open the windows of her home, which she moved into with her family in September 2013, without smelling the smell of “sewage and trash.”

She first noticed the smell in spring 2015 and was initially told what she was smelling was coming from her own property or the marsh, but she knew better, especially when she passed the pump station as she walked her dog along the Eastern Trail.

If the issue doesn’t get better soon, Mc- Clure said she and her neighbors may have to contact the Maine Department of Environmental Protection because there is concern about respiratory and allergy issues from being exposed to the odor. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, low concentrations of exposure to hydrogen sulfide may cause irritations of eyes, nose, throat and respiratory system.

Moderate concentrations can cause more severe eye and respiratory effects, as well as dizziness, nausea, coughing and difficulty breathing. High concentrations can have serious complications and could lead to shock, convulsions, inability to breath and even death.

“We are frustrated because we live here. We own this property and we just want to enjoy it,” she said.

Hughes, who said he has responded to every odor complaint he has received, said he understands that frustration.

“This is a problem the district takes seriously and we will get it taken care of,” Hughes said. “If I lived in the neighborhood, I would be upset, too.”

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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