Richmond residents complain of foul smell


Point Richmond is usually a picture-perfect town -- the kind of place that looks like it smells like roses, but some days that postcard image is shattered by a not-so-pretty odor that some describe as rotting eggs and others describe in less-polite terms.

"It's a real sewer smell," said Point Richmond resident Barbara Martin.

Residents like Martin know exactly where to point their finger and noses: The nearby sewage plant.

"My son moved away because of the smell," Martin said. "It was just that bad."

Neighbors say it was really bad in October after an equipment malfunction at the plant caused the release of the smell gas known more technically as hydrogen sulfide. Air quality monitors say so far the release levels have not been dangerous. In small doses, hydrogen sulfide isn't harmful to anything, though it definitely stinks.

Recent air quality complaints might be due in part to the plant's trucks, which move its waste out of town. Residents in Richmond Point say the bad smell is dependent on the weather. On a mild day, the smell is barely noticeable, but on a hot and windy day, the smell is repugnant.

"It's frustrating for everybody," city councilman Tom Butt, whose Point Richmond home borders the plan. Butt says there is no easy fix.

"The only way to address some of that is through cap improvements, and we're talking about millions and millions of dollars," Butt said.

Veolia Water runs the plant. Veolia says the smell cloud could come from anywhere, including nearby oil refineries.

"There is no data to support the recent assertion that odors are originating from the plant," Veolia said in a statement to ABC7 News.

Air quality monitors dispute that. New city sensors that detect hydrogen sulfide in the air say otherwise, as do Point Richmond residents.

"It doesn't smell good, it doesn't smell healthy," said Martin. "It doesn't smell safe. It smells like sewer."

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