Computer power brought to bear on odour mystery
The source of the mysterious smell in Timaru may finally be a step closer to being identified.
During the last three summers, Environment Canterbury (ECan) and The Timaru Herald have received dozens of calls about a pungent odour in the town as the weather changes.
ECan's compliance monitoring leader, Jason Evered, said it was now working with an Australian information technology firm to develop a programme to track the smell complaints.
"We're almost there. We've had several goes at it over the last two to three months, and every time we send the data off, it comes back needing to be refined," he said.
"Hopefully, by the start of the summer we'll be able to get a trial programme running. I'm crossing my fingers."
The mysterious smell noticed in the city over the last three summers has been variously described as "fishy" and "mouldy".
Mr Evered said once the system was signed off and operational, a public information campaign would be launched.
"Essentially, we will plot the data, taking into account the time and place of the complaint, and the description of the smell," he said.
"If it works properly, we will be able to model that to the weather patterns and try and hone in on the source of the smell."
ECan investigated about a dozen potential offenders when people began to complain in January, including Alliance Group's Smithfield plant, South Canterbury By-Products, the Timaru District Council rubbish dump and the Sanford fish processing plant.
Among potential sources suggested by readers was a dead dolphin at the port, seaweed and a common garden weed called hydrocotyle.
The coverage led Aoraki Development Business and Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith to express concern that stories about the odour were a media beat-up, saying that smells were part of being a rural community with a port.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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