Hamish Clark: The smell of the Bromley sewage plant is getting worse


The stench of Christchurch leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Photo/George Heard


The potency of the stench hanging over Christchurch is getting worse. Much worse.

This morning it was floating heavily in the air like a sewage-soaked blanket. I felt soaked in it, and it gave me a headache.

You have to live here to believe it.

First was the smell. Now it’s the taste – and it’s horrible.

It’s so bad that I’m considering wearing a mask full time.

Every day I can taste it – it’s pungent, metallic and revolting – and now it’s coiled up in my mouth and attached to the sides of my tongue.

The taste rises through my nose and sticks to the back of my throat.

My senses are on high alert – like headlights in the dark – and I think they’re the best they’ve ever been.

The smell began to seep into homes and offices in the city.

It is pumped through the air conditioning of NZME’s offices in Christchurch, over 8km from Ground Zero and literally across town.

It was so bad that one day a member of staff turned off the air conditioning to stop his walk to The Hits radio studio here.

It also seeps through car air vents. Driving the kids to school, my 10-year-old daughter asked, “What’s that smell?”

It’s from the poo ponds, I replied.

It stinks, she cried.

I walked around with the air conditioning on and saw that the vents were open for cool air.

I quickly put it in recirculation to quell the smell.

I can taste it at my son’s school rugby match in South Hagley Park, on the tennis courts near the airport and in the city mall when the wind blows from the East.

The worst thing is that no matter what I eat or drink, I can’t get rid of it. It’s filthy.

Ironically, the waste treatment plant is on the east side of Christchurch and the prevailing wind blows from the northeast – off the sea and blows the smell over the city and beyond.

The only way to get my taste buds back is to get out of the putrid cloud or hope the wind blows some other way.

The council, to their credit, have issued an apology – albeit a bit late – and are considering financial compensation for residents living near the damaged sewage plant.

And the cleanup is about to begin – but not for two weeks.

For me, I just want to find my taste buds. I’m sick of eating a poo sandwich, but I know it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.


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