James Rada, Jr.

Kim Andrew of Emmitsburg was awakened one morning because the smell in her house was so foul. The smell wasn’t coming from anything in her house, though. It was coming from the wastewater treatment plant lagoon that the town rents to Enviro-Organic Technologies (EOT) during the winter.

The lagoon had not been used since the new wastewater plant went into operation. EOT currently hauls the town’s sludge, but it was in need of a place to store food process residuals from mid-November until the beginning of March. An agreement was reached, and EOT paid the town $80,000 to use the lagoon, which was to be used towards some of the operating costs of the new wastewater treatment plant, at least for the first year.

The problem is that the material stored in the lagoon has been creating a hydrogen sulfide type of smell.

Mary Ann Wivell of Emmitsburg told the commissioners that she is afraid to hang up her clothes to dry outside for fear that they will pick up the smell. She and other residents attended the May town meeting to ask the commissioners to do something about the smell, which has been noticed in the east end of Emmitsburg since March.

“We have a beautiful town, and I’m concerned that you have people that come here, and that’s all they smell,” Wivell said.

Andrew said that she fears she goes to work some days smelling of rotten eggs. The material in the lagoon is a nutrient replacement that is spread on fields, but new state regulations don’t allow this to happen in the winter, so the material must be stored.

Residents also wondered if there were health hazards associated with the smell. In particular, could it affect people with asthma?

Phil Snader, EOT vice president, said that Maryland Department of Agriculture regulates the material and that it is a wash water product from processing poultry.

He said that he believed the smell started when the material in the lagoon was stirred. This broke the crust on the surface and allowed the smell to escape.

Snader suggested some things that could be done to reduce and hopefully eliminate the smell: (1) A biological odor-control agent can be added to the lagoon once it is drained of material; (2) Mixing can be reduced so as to not compromise the crust; (3) Material can be removed through PVC pipe under the crust to keep it intact; and (4) Straw can be placed on top of the material that will help a crust form more quickly.

However, Snader cautioned, “I can’t guarantee there will never be an odor.”

The commissioners are willing to give Snader’s solutions a try. Also, EOT stopped using the lagoon in early May.

Based on how well the implemented solutions work, the commissioners may not want to rent the lagoon for the same use this winter.

Share →