Residents meeting to get action on Christchurch stench

The organics processing plant site in Bromley. Photo: Supplied
The organics processing plant site in Bromley. Photo: Supplied
Residents of Christchurch's east will gather tonight to push for more action in reducing the stench from two processing plants at Bromley.

The public meeting has been organised by locals concerned that not enough is being done. Several hundred people have indicated on Facebook that they will attend.

Organiser Caleb Saunderson said it is possible the mayor and councillors will be there.

Residents have been putting up with the stench since a fire ripped through the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant in November.

That came after years of complaints due to a smell that was later found to have been caused by a compost processing plant in the area.

It has been described as "putrid" and "sickening" with some residents saying they cannot sleep or open their windows.

Whether the stench is being dealt with fast enough was called into question at a Christchurch City Council meeting yesterday.

Councillor Yani Johanson asked when the council first approached the insurance company to remove the rotting material from the wastewater plant, and when permission was given.

Senior insurance specialist Adrian Seager responded that approval was given in March, and they have been going as quick as humanly possible.

Johanson asked if work could increase from six days a week, 12 hours a day - to 24/7.

But Christchurch City Council senior health and safety advisor Kurt Scoringe says the work is extremely dangerous.

Bromley residents are still pushing for rates reductions because of the smell. The meeting will be held at the local community centre from 7.30pm.

Sulphurous gases including one known as "swamp gas" have been detected in specialist air quality tests around the wastewater plant, but council chiefs insist there is no danger to people's health.

A team from Hamilton tested the type and concentration of gases in the air at a number of places around the plant and neighbouring streets.

Helen Beaumont, Christchurch City Council's head of Three Waters, said the results showed small amounts of hydrogen sulfide from the digesters and oxidation ponds, which was commonly called sewer or swamp gas.

Tests near the ponds also detected methyl mercaptan, a pungent gas that forms when organic material breaks down.

While the readings were well above the odour detection threshold, Beaumont said they remained well within WorkSafe's exposure standards.

-By Georgia O'Connor-Harding

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