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Compost project casts odor over Schenectady

Compost project casts odor over Schenectady

A foul smell greeted children on Banker Avenue in Niskayuna as they waited for the school bus this m

A foul smell greeted children on Banker Avenue in Niskayuna as they waited for the school bus this morning, giving them a good whiff of exactly what sewage sludge smells like when it’s been spread out to compost.

But the smell didn’t come from a landscaper or an overflowing toilet. It floated up from the city’s sewage treatment plant, where workers had to turn off the compost facility’s blowers so the old fans could be replaced. The work will continue tomorrow but should be done by the end of the day, according to plant manager Paul LaFond.

The compost began smelling much worse when the blowers had to be turned off. But then the weather conspired to make the problem even stinkier.

“With the cold, dense air, the air from the compost doesn’t disperse easily,” LaFond said.

Instead of spreading out, the odiferous air hovered over the plant and nearby neighborhoods. Residents were less than thrilled by the situation.

“This is not 'worse,' this is disgusting,” said Todd O’Brien, who lives on Banker Avenue. He and his son wanted to cover their mouths while they waited for the bus, he said.

“I still have the taste in my mouth. It’s not right,” he said. “And they say tomorrow, too? They should have had a plan.”

The city is spending $192,000 on the job.

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