Residents Say Odor From Rockaway Water Pollution Control Plant Stinks

Rockaway residents say that there's an undeniable odor in the air where they live that just won't go away. NY1's Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.

There's something in the air in Rockaway Beach, and it's far from anything anyone cares to smell.

"On a good day, it's 1,000 rotten eggs, and on a bad day, you want to vomit," said Dolores Orr, the chairperson of Community Board 14.

"On a good day, it would be like a public toilet," said Sam Amato, a student at Scholars Academy.

The odor that residents described, and I smelled firsthand, is coming out of the Rockaway Water Pollution Control Plant on Beach Channel Drive, just feet away from Scholars Academy. Beach Channel High School is down the street.

Ray Everett, an architect conducting a post-Hurricane Sandy survey inside Scholars Academy, said that he couldn't escape the smell.

"The classrooms on this side that are getting the most exposure were very difficult to survey, and it was very uncomfortable," Everett said.

Amato said that the smell impacts him and his friends everyday.

"We used to always play basketball outside the school in the park after school, but now, we don't because we have to smell this," he said.

His mother, Stacey, said that on bad days, it ends up at her house.

"I actually made him take a shower because I felt the smell was on his clothes," she said.

She said that Sam sometimes comes home with a headache because of the smell, and that dealing with the stink has become routine.

"The sewage is literally right there," said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder of Queens.
"There's no cover on it. There's no protection on it."

To help clear the air, Goldfeder helped secure $8 million, and Orr said she's met with the department of environmental protection for a solution.

"It would either be to build a completely new treatment plant or change it to a pumping station and just pump it out to another plant, but either solution will take five years," Orr said.

Orr said that pre-Hurricane Sandy, the smell would only happen occasionally, but now, it's a constant problem for everyone in the area.

The Department of Environmental Protection said that a lack of rain is to blame, that it's slowed the time it takes for wastewater to reach the plant.

The DEP said that it plans to install new equipment to reduce the stench.

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