'Ponganui' delivers summer stench

Whanganui residents will get no respite from a foul smell wafting from the city's waste treatment plant, with the council warning the issue will continue "for some time".

Whanganui Mayor Annette Main said there was a new dumping of sulphurous waste into the treatment plant on Friday night and yesterday morning.

The city's treatment plant would struggle to process this new industrial waste, meaning the smell - which had plagued the city for almost three weeks - was likely to continue, she said.

"The only alternatives to discharging to the treatment plant would be to discharge directly into the Whanganui River or the ocean - no-one in our community wants that."

The mayor said the council had not yet been able to identify the industry or industries responsible for the dumping, but would conduct a major review of industrial waste treatment in the new year.

Former Whanganui Mayor Michael Laws said the smell, which has caused the city to be nicknamed ‘Ponganui', stemmed from a treatment facility that was not fit for purpose.

"The council that commissioned the plant accepted a design and construction not tried anywhere else in the world. Now we know why."

Laws said the council was honour-bound to provide an official apology and compensation to residents, and rates rebates would be an effective measure.

Resident Paulette Stent said the stench was a particular problem over Christmas, with people forced to keep their doors and windows shut, despite hot weather, to avoid the smell.

"It's like the sulphur at Rotorua mixed with offal," she said yesterday.

"I've only smelled it slightly today [Saturday], but yesterday it was disgusting and the day before it was too."

Sunday Star Times