'Nights that I virtually couldn’t breathe': Resident living with Bromley 'stench' wants compensation

Residents living near the fire-damaged Christchurch wastewater treatment plant have been "coping with the stench" for weeks now and want something done to fix it.

The wastewater treatment plant in Bromley caught fire in November and has been emitting an unpleasant smell ever since, causing frustration among residents.

Katinka Visser has lived in Bromley for 35 years, and said while the stench hasn’t been as bad over the New Year for her, she sometimes felt as though she couldn’t breathe.

“I’ve had three nights that I virtually couldn’t breathe, it was that bad, there’s like a fog and it’s just sitting.’’

She said even after putting her head under the blankets, she could still smell the stench.

Visser said because the wind has been coming from a southerly direction lately, she hasn’t been experiencing the smell as strongly, but knows that residents close by do.

“I’m so thankful that I’m not affected as much as most people,” she said.

“There are people way, way worse off than me.”

Visser said the direction of the wind determines which areas get the smell, explaining why sometimes she could smell it but her neighbour couldn’t.

Visser said she has to keep her toilet door permanently shut as the smell can get in through her extractor fan and seep into the rest of the house.

City council staff continue to try reduce any odours coming from the plant, including two new aerators to be installed later this month, currently being serviced.

Head of three waters and waste Helen Beaumont said this will help to aerate the ponds and prevent surface sludge, which, in turn, will reduce the odour.

She said staff are monitoring the dissolved oxygen levels of the plant daily and adjusting the wastewater flow paths to make sure the effluent is spread out across the ponds.

“This improves water quality, reduces the odour and minimises the sludge rising to the surface,” she said.

In the meantime, damage assessment to the two trickling filters, that were at the centre of the fire, is still being carried out.

Visser said while she doesn’t want to lay the blame on anyone and understands these things take time to fix, the stench is problematic and unfair to those living with it.

“I truly believe that we should be compensated for having to live through this, because the others can have lovely barbecues every night and that a lot of the people in this area can’t and that’s not fair when we’re paying huge rates.”

• More information can be found at ccc.govt.nz/wastewaterfire

 

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter