Christchurch residents say they are "physically sick" from the foul stench coming from broken wastewater plant

  • 08/04/2022

Christchurch residents say a foul and toxic stench coming from a broken wastewater plant is affecting their health.

The smelly issues began after a fire broke out at the plant in November but now residents say when it rains maggots wash up in their backyard.

"I just came out for a smoke and there's more I'm not shitting you, do you see all those little white things," a Bromley resident said in a video.

Bromley resident Vickie Walker told AM  "we're over it".

"We're sick, you know physically sick and mentally sick we can't get away from it we're trapped in our homes, we're imprisoned in our community." 

One comment Walker has received is that the smell is hydrogen sulphide and essentially smells like Rotorua which she rebuts.

"I think 400,000 people's human waste would not be equivalent to human sulphide I think there's a bit more than that." 

Walker said before the fire in November, Bromley residents had clean air and now she wants that back.

"Last week there were three days, I had no sleep because I was woken up by this stuff [smell] in my mouth."

Walker says the stench is so bad she has anxiety, gets sore eyes and it makes her nauseous. 

She says she can't even turn on her HRV system to get fresh air inside her house because that'll only bring the stench from outside in. 

"If it's the middle of the night I have to add smellys to it [HRV] and that's just not fair it just makes me gag it's just adding another smell to a smell."

Head of Three Waters Helen Beaumont said in a statement the smell had increased over the past couple of weeks, resulting in more complaints.

"Over the past week we've recorded 26 complaints, which has increased from the average of five complaints a week."

Beaumont said fire damaged infrastructure is generating the odour. 

"The loss of the trickling filters significantly reduced the treatment efficiency of the plant and detrimentally affected the quality of the effluent discharged into the oxidation ponds, creating conditions within the ponds that are conducive to odour generation."