Lee County Residents complain about bad odor coming from waste treatment plant
Some Lee County residents are upset over an odor close to their homes.
"It actually makes me physically ill, to throwing up ill," said Elaine Woliver.
"My yard there, you can't hardly get in the yard in the mornings without almost getting sick,” said Carl Bloomer.
Residents tell News 5 they believe the smell is coming from the Hickory Flats Waste Water Treatment Plant, and while it has always been an issue, Woliver says it has become intolerable.
"When I called the PSA office to see what the problem was, they said they were having a problem with one of the digesters, something not working correctly," said Woliver.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality confirmed that, saying the smell is from a 2 million dollar upgrade that is currently being done.
"The first part of that is cleaning out a digestive dungeon that has septic sludge," said Allen Newman, DEQ Water Permit Manager.
Newman tells us this is the main cause of the smell and says when the waste is irritated it will let off an odor.
Woliver says she understands, but feels she should have been warned.
Woliver tells News 5 she has an autoimmune disease, and her medication wears down her immune system.
"So when my immune system is down, they want to make sure I’m not smelling something that may give me TB, or other germs that are floating in the air," said Woliver.
However, Woliver tells me the air quality is not the only issue she and other neighbors are having.
She showed me pictures of foam in the creek on her neighbor’s property and she believes it is coming from the plant.
However, Newman says it is common to see that near treatment facilities and it is nothing to worry about.
"We're continuing to monitor it. Historically we've never seen an issue with treatment plants that are admitting foam," said Newman.
Woliver says she does not mind living next to the plant, she just wants to know she is safe.
"I don't want 10 years from now to have something different that possibly came from that thing, that I had no idea I was going to get," said Woliver.
We spoke with the Public Service Authority Director, James Parsons, who would only give us a statement saying, “The odor problem has been made aware and we have been working to fix it. Our sympathies are with the residents in the area and we send our apologies. We are working on the problem the best way we know how. “
Newman told me they have sent an inspector out to the plant to check on the situation.
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