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How about that awful stench around Kings Landing? 

click to enlarge The Kings Landing Wastewater Treatment Plant is located on the banks of the Genesee River, across from Seneca Park. - PHOTO BY JEREMY MOULE
  • PHOTO BY JEREMY MOULE
  • The Kings Landing Wastewater Treatment Plant is located on the banks of the Genesee River, across from Seneca Park.
Foul odors, whether from a neighbor's uncovered garbage bin or a malfunctioning factory smokestack, are an annoying fact of urban life.

Just ask the people who work at Eastman Business Park or live in nearby neighborhoods who have been beset by an intermittent and sometimes intense odor. It was so bad one recent day that motorists passing through the area drove with one hand on the wheel and the other over their noses.

The unpleasant aroma has been coming from the business park's wastewater treatment plant, which sits on the west bank of the Genesee River below Lake Avenue near its intersection with Maplewood Avenue.

Citizen complaints about the stench found their way to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which said in a statement that it had investigated the problem and in February issued what the agency calls a "notice to violation."

The notice that the plant violated its DEC permit is a mechanism to encourage compliance and does not carry any fine.

In response to questions from CITY, the plant operator readily acknowledged that operating difficulties at Kings Landing Wastewater Treatment Plant were the source of the smell and said they're taking multiple steps to address the cause.

The DEC said in its statement that it "continues to carefully monitor the facility to ensure compliance with requirements that are protective of public health and the environment."

City officials said they had not fielded any recent complaints about foul odors in the area.

The Kings Landing plant, which takes its name from an early white settlement there, was built and operated for many years by Eastman Kodak Co.

The facility has never accepted sanitary waste from toilets and sinks. Instead, Kodak piped industrial waste to the facility for removal of pollutants before wastewater was discharged into the river.

But it was an imperfect process. Residual silver from the manufacture of photographic film and paper made it through Kings Landing and into river sediments, which the company is in the midst of spending an estimated $15 million to remediate.

A decade ago, Kodak sold the business park's utilities, including Kings Landing, to RED-Rochester, a unit of Illinois-based Recycled Energy Development.

The facility continues to treat inorganic and organic materials, including a significant amount of food processing waste from Eastman Business Park tenants.

The plant's manager, Mary Lee Bishopp, said malfunctions in the process of storing and aerating sludge — the solids left after liquids are removed — was the root of the odor problem.

As a result of the particularly bad episode earlier this month, plant operators fed the less-than-fully-processed sludge to the plant's incinerator on April 8, according to company representatives.

The company incinerated the sludge to address the odors "rather than waiting for the biology in the sludge storage system to return to healthy (non-odorous) conditions," said Jill DiPiano, environmental health and safety manager for RED-Rochester.

Bishopp said that when the weather warms, the company can mask odors with "counteractant sprays" consisting of essential oils. Cool temperatures prevented their deployment until April 11, though.

The company plans to improve the sludge aeration systems during a coming maintenance shutdown, Bishopp said, and has hired an outside consultant to conduct an odor study.

"That team will focus on identifying the root cause of the odor ... and will make recommendations for avoiding/managing the same," Bishopp said.

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