Councilors Hear Complaints About Septic, Sewer Odors in Bradford

Haverhill City Councilor Michael S. McGonagle.

City Councilor Michael S. McGonagle.

Haverhill city officials are looking to mitigate sewage odor issues in Bradford and considering a possible relocation for a septic company’s current processing operation.

According to Haverhill Deputy Public Works Director and Water/Wastewater Superintendent Robert Ward and Director of Health and Inspections Richard McDonald, there is a pending agreement for the city to enter into an administrative consent order with Stewart Septic Service Inc., 58 South Kimball St., to address odor complaints from neighbors. Ward told the city council Tuesday night mitigation efforts by Stewart, including an engineering review of their operation and an odor control assessment, have started even before an agreement placing a series of completion deadlines is ready to be signed pending an attorney’s review.

“That’s where we are right now and next, we have a meeting scheduled this week with them. Their attorney has been out of the country for a couple weeks so they’ve got to take a last look at it and then it will be ready to sign. The good thing is he understands he’s got to move forward and he is actually taking steps to do that so far,” Ward said.

McDonald said the pending agreement is about improving the process at Stewart.

Further discussion, initiated by Councilor William H. Ryan, referred to talks with the Conservation Commission on a potential relocation by Stewart to the upper Hilldale Avenue industrial park. However, Councilor William J. Macek said the current Stewart facility, previously located on South Mill Street, is “just in the wrong place at the wrong time” and it needs to relocate.

City Councilor William J. Macek.

City Councilor William J. Macek.

“They just don’t belong there. It should have never moved up the street to where it is on South Kimballl. It got bigger, it kind of got away from the city, I think, in a lot of different ways and now it’s time for us to reel it back in. And hearing that, under the five year permit, the city has the right to shut them down, maybe you’re gonna have to pull that trigger,” Macek said.

At the request of Councilor Michael S. McGonagle, McDonald said he would further review a grease separation process at the Stewart facility, including McGonagle’s suggestion of burning the grease as part of odor mitigation. According to McDonald, Stewart has also agreed to remove drums and totes storing grease or oil by the end of November. That process is operating under a variance granted by the Board of Appeals in 1997.

City Councilor Colin F. LePage, chairman of Administration and Finance Committee.

City Councilor Colin F. LePage, chairman of Administration and Finance Committee.

Councilors, meanwhile, approved a motion from Councilor Colin F. LePage to also refer the issue to its public safety committee. LePage, along with Councilors Melinda Barrett and President John A. Michitson, requested a status discussion stemming from previous complaints by neighbors and other residents.

Also comments from the public, including an Elmwood Avenue resident, touched on odor mitigation efforts at the city’s own wastewater treatment facility nearby. According to Ward, a $24 million project to place covers over the plant’s basins and holding tanks will cost taxpayers $70 per year. In October, 2014, the wastewater plant was at the center of odor complaints from Bradford and Riverside residents during repairs which involved draining several basins or tanks. At the time, so-called “public health emergency” measures, including chemical misting over aeration tanks, adding chlorine in various locations as needed and extended day and weekend plant operations, were taken for quicker sludge processing and removal.

2 thoughts on “Councilors Hear Complaints About Septic, Sewer Odors in Bradford

    • No kidding huh ? Who were the brainiacs that thought allowing them to move there was a good move in the first place ? So they decided to move the facility to another location and now will have TWO locations with odors. Do these knuckleheads really think that the odors from the wastewater plant are going away ? They are the biggest creator of odors. It is what it is. Got to get rid of the poop !