Mystery smell: clues emerge

February 27 2019

THE source of an unexplained smell that is causing concern among residents in Lyde Green and Emersons Green could soon be traced.

The smell, most commonly experienced early in the morning and during the evening, is described as having an egg or sulphur odour.
 The Environment Agency, which regulates three operators in our area, says it is investigating potential sources and the operators have cooperated to change their working practices and cut the risk of further odours developing.
 In Westerleigh, effluent from the Tulip abattoir was found to be passing through the sewer under the village, which is now going to be redirected by Wessex Water.The abattoir has also improved its ventilation and filtration.
 At the Shortwood Landfill site, operator Enovert is collecting more landfill gas in underground wells before burning it, thanks to more boreholes being added to the extraction system. Other steps taken include resealing a number of these gas wells, replacing a leachate storage tank, installing new covers for some leachate wells to stop gas escaping, and permanently capping  parts of the site that are full in order to contain gas and odour.
 The third operator, Vertase FLI Ltd, is excavating a historic landfill site as part of the Lyde Green housing development and the Environment Agency is checking to see if it is still emitting gas. The coal mines in this part of our area once had shafts that were described as ‘odorous and sulphurous’ in historic documents, with one mine in particular known as ‘Old Stinker’. Odour has been noticed by springs in Lyde Green as part of Vertase’s daily odour monitoring, but the Environment Agency says a connection between them and mining has not yet been proven, although monitoring is ongoing.  
 Addressing the concerns of residents, a spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency has been investigating residents’ odour complaints since May 2018. The smell has been described as rotten eggs and tends to happen after dark, which makes checking any permitted activity in the area to find the source difficult. This, combined with the infrequency of the smell and the intensity not matching the location reported, adds to this difficulty.
 “Our investigation to find the source of this odour is ongoing and we thank residents for continuing to alert our 0800 807060 hotline when it occurs.”