Compost Pile Causing a Stink

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

March 27, 2006

A compost facility in town is creating quite a stink in one neighborhood, literally. Residents in the Woolen Mills area of the city are upset over a foul smell in their neighborhood. For more than 20 years they have lived just blocks away from a compost facility. This year they say the dry weather is making the smell even worse.

"If you're out in the backyard grilling some hot dogs or something like that, you do not wanna smell that odor," said Bill Emory.

He's lived in the neighborhood since 1987. Since then he and other residents say the smell from the Moore's Creek Compost Facility has become overwhelming. One of the reasons is the increasing population, which is creating more waste.

"Residents in the city and many in the county contribute to the problem, and yet it's the immediate adjacent neighborhoods that bear the consequences," said Allison Ewing, who also lives in the area.

So on Monday several residents asked Rivanna Water and Sewer authorities to look into a solution. They say the facility, built in 1984, is outdated and needs to be either moved or shut down. They're worried it could lower home values or even lead to health problems.

"I have, on occasion, gotten out of my car and immediately experienced a sore throat with the first breath," explained Ewing.

Other residents have experienced similar symptoms, as well as headaches and nausea.

The board listened to the complaints and responded.

"We are looking at all types of solutions. We are open to any ideas," said Tom Frederick, the Executive Director at the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.

Those ideas include covering the facility to limit the odor, or even moving it to an entirely new location. For now the residents say they feel hopeful about the board finding a solution.

"The board is empowered to make these decisions, and I think they really have heard us clearly today," said Emory. "I think they're gonna do the right thing."

The board will use the next 90 days to come up with both long and short term solutions.

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