December 2, 2002
PSCAA inundated with odor complaints - Community links soup odors to potential sewer-plant odors
by Jeanette Knutson
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) is well aware of the odor problem associated with the StockPot soup plant at 22505 State Route 9, Woodinville, said John Schantz, PSCAA inspector.
The agency has been fielding odor-complaint calls at a fairly steady rate over the past week.
At least 14 complaints were registered last Wednesday, Nov. 27, alone, these by 9:40 a.m.
In fact, said Schantz, "It is getting beyond our ability to respond individually to each complaint."
Procedure required by clean air regulations calls for an inspector to visit the complainant's property, obtain a written statement from the complainant, verify the presence of the odor, visit the place from which the odor emanates, check the steam plume from the stack, determine the wind direction, cite the company with a violation if the infraction is deemed sufficient and, after doing so, respond to each individual who registered a complaint.
"We have succeeded in writing three notices of violation within the last week," said Schantz. "We feel these notices are sufficient to work with (StockPot) to keep them on track and on schedule."
He said last spring the company put in odor control equipment that didn't work. The company is aware effective odor control is a must. He said the company is researching new technologies to solve the problem.
PSCAA inspectors have met with StockPot corporate representatives from New Jersey along with local company representatives.
"They have committed to us to identify the technology they are going to use (to alleviate odors) by the end of this year," said Schantz. "In January, we will work together on an action plan and put (StockPot) on a compliance schedule."
"In the meantime," he said, "we would be interested in receiving complaints, but we are not going to be able to respond to each one individually. Certainly, we want to know that once the (new) technology comes in, it is effective."
Those opposed to a Route 9 sewage plant have often cited the complexity of the Route 9 air shed as a reason not to build a sewage treatment plant in that location.
Those in the area smell StockPot's emissions on a regular basis and figure if StockPot's odors hang in the air shed, what is going to prevent sewage-plant odors from doing the same?
"(These odor-complaint calls are) documentation," said Linda Gray of Sno-King Environmental Alliance, an anti-Route 9 sewer-plant group, "for how far odors from StockPot's small exhaust pipe migrate. What will happen when it comes from a huge sewage plant?"
Mark Sakura of another anti-Route 9 sewer-plant group, Just the Facts, dropped his daughter off at daycare in downtown Woodinville on Nov. 20.
He said, "Some of the staff were talking about the smell." Sakura said, "If the sewer plant is built, (people) will be begging for the onion smell to come back to cover the sewage smell."
Schantz said PSCAA is aware of a "... synergy between an existing problem (StockPot odors) and a potential problem (sewage plant odors)."
According to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the so-called Brightwater Regional Wastewater System, Section 18.104.22.168, Route 9 Site, Topography, "The Route 9 site is located at the edge of a valley surrounded by hills in Snohomish County. The topography has the potential to create challenges to good air dispersion since emissions may not be able to pass over the hills and could be trapped in the valley. The treatment plant layout at the Route 9 site has a greater buffer (distance between emission sources and the property line or areas of public access) than at the (other plant site under consideration, the) Unocal site. The distance between an emission source and the property line allows emissions to disperse to acceptable levels before they reach a potential receptor, such as a person standing by the facility's fence line."
Under Section 22.214.171.124 of the document, "In a worst case evaluation, odor emissions could occur at pump stations, diversion structures connecting the existing wastewater system to the new influent tunnel, and any permanent access and/or ventilation facilities along the conveyance system (including tunnel portals). Potential impacts would be less at facilities along the conveyance corridor than at the treatment plant site since the treatment plant has more potential exposure to the ambient air than do the tunnels. As part of the conveyance system design, King County would install odor control equipment ... at all potential odor sources to minimize emissions of odorous compounds to the atmosphere. The level of odor control and specific type and amount of equipment installed at each facility would depend upon nearby land uses and their sensitivity to odor."
Section 126.96.36.199 of the draft Environmental Impact Statement states, "... The goal for odor control at the Brightwater Treatment Plant is to prevent offsite nuisance odors from occurring by using a combination of design, operational and maintenance practices and procedures. The Brightwater odor control system will have the highest degree of odor control equipment and strategies currently available for municipal wastewater plants in the United States. This combination approach of prevention plus high control has been proven to meet public concerns regarding offsite odors and reliable control at many similar facilities both in the United States and internationally. To achieve this goal, the Brightwater odor control system will be designed to remove 99.99 percent hydrogen sulfide that is present in the process air. Any residual hydrogen sulfide emission after treatment will be non-detectable for most noses. ..."