Eltham pong goes on

Last updated 05:00 14/03/2014

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The stench caused by rotting buttermilk has taken its toll on Eltham residents, the head of the South Taranaki District Council says.

Dairy giant Fonterra last year dumped about three million litres of the milk byproduct, 150,000 litres of milk tainted with drilling waste, at the town's wastewater treatment plant in an effort to deal with spring's record milk production.

It didn't take long for the stench from curdling buttermilk to get up residents' noses and so far efforts to reduce the pong have failed.

Chief executive Craig Stevenson has now conceded the stink has affected the health and wellbeing of residents. "We don't dispute it, it has affected people's wellbeing."

He said the council was sorry the problem had arisen and was working very hard to fix it.

Residents have described the smell as "burning and choking sulphur" and being similar to rotting bodies, poo and sewerage.

They've complained its caused nausea, headaches, retching, difficulty breathing, depression, stress, tearfulness and being woken up at night.

Deputy mayor and Eltham ward councillor Alex Ballantyne, who lives opposite the plant, has described the whole issue as a "disaster" and has expressed his concern about the stress it has put on the small community.

Residents want the Government to step in and conduct an inquiry into the issue.

The council has offered affected residents vouchers for doctors' visits, short term accommodation and movies.

An odour suppression system had also been installed at the plant.

Fixing the problem is expected to drain up to $400,000 from the council's coffers.

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