2 studies to be launched to investigate mysterious odor in Milpitas

MILPITAS, Calif. (KGO) -- Longtime residents of Milpitas say they have lived with mysterious odors for decades that fill the air whenever they open their windows or doors, take a walk in the park, or go shopping.

The South Bay community, nestled between the bay and the foothill range, sits downwind from several facilities that have long been the subject of complaints. They treat waste and sewage water and collect solid waste and material for recycling.

Two separate studies are soon to be launched to analyze the odors so they can be traced back to the source for mitigation. One study, authorized by an $85,000 appropriation by the City Council, will involve both handheld and stationary monitors placed on city-owned utility poles. The other study will be done by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). Both are expected to take a year or longer and will look for seasonal variations in the types and intensity of odor detected in addition to the compounds identified.

The BAAQMD says it regularly receives public nuisance complaints about smelly air in Milpitas. It logged 3,500 complaints in 2015, but the number has grown smaller each year with 1,500 complaints last year. Still, both the city and the air district are stepping in and engaged in separate studies.

One 20-year-long resident told ABC7 News that she has been asked by potential homeowners about the mystery odors that permeate their community. She acknowledges to them that the air does smell, and she has seen buyers shy away.

If issues can be corrected during the course of the separate studies, both the city and the air district say that they will be addressed without waiting for the full term of the studies. The city is currently evaluating handheld and stationary monitors, while the air district has set April 2 as the deadline for contractors to submit proposals and bids.

ABC7 News has reached out to Republic Services, operator of the Newby Island landfill and recycling facility, for its reaction to the two planned studies.
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