Thursday, July 1, 2010

New York Using Perfume Spray to Cover Stench in Astoria, Likely Caused by Wastewater Treatment Plant by Daniel Edward Rosen - NY Daily News

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New York is no stranger to mysterious smells: in 2007, clouds hung over the Manhattan skyline the day a mysterious rotten egg stench wafted through parts of the city. Sabo/News

This gives new meaning to eau de toilette.

The city Department of Environmental Protection is using a perfume-like chemical spray to mask a fetid stench likely emanating from a waste treatment plant.

Officials hoped the citrus-scented spray would prevent a fireworks display in Astoria Park from turning into a putrid jubilee.

"I've never smelled it this bad," said city Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who first noticed the stench two months ago.

Vallone believes the persistent stink is wafting from the Wards Island wastewater treatment plant located just miles away from Astoria Park, where 10,000 people were expected to attend a fireworks display last night.

A DEP spokesman denied that the plant was the source of the funk. Still, the agency started using "odor-counteracting machines" to spray the chemical -- which neutralizes stinky hydrogen sulfide -- across the treatment plant yesterday.

The plant has a malfunctioning blower that normally pumps oxygen into wastewater as it's being treated, said spokesman Farrell Sklerov. The remaining five pumps are still working.

Vallone said he met with DEP officials, who detailed their spray strategy, as well as Joseph Scafidi, one of the investigators who helped sniff out the source of the mysterious maple syrup smell that plagued Manhattan in 2007 and 2009.

"He's their hound dog," said Vallone. Scafidi refused to answer questions Wednesday.

One Astoria neighbor hopes the spray will spare her from a stench that she likened to "getting hit with a wall of sewage."

"It's eye-watering," said KellyAnn Tobin, 31, a nurse who lives on Crescent St. "I don't need coffee in the morning to get up, it's that bad."