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Delmont neighbors complain of sewage odor; council vows to fix it

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 2:01 p.m.

The stench of sewer gas has gotten to be too much for three Delmont women.

For the past three years, the smell of grilled hot dogs and hamburgers at Jennifer Nagg's Labor Day barbecue has been overcome by sewer gas coming through manhole covers in several front yards along Montecello Drive.

"I can't sit out to grill, it smells so bad," Nagg said. "People want to move from the neighborhood; it's so awful."

The stench stems from myriad problems at the Cramer Pump Station, which officials have discussed repairing and replacing for years. A short term solution to the smell is expected to come within the next month, Councilman Randy Cupps said.

Workers have been trying to fix the problem for several months, Cupps said. A series of tests have been done on the sewage to determine what chemicals would curtail the scent. Currently, the pump station treats the sewage with chlorine.

Once the test results come back from the state Department of Environmental Protection, workers will change the chemicals that treat the sewage, which Cupps said should stop the release of Hydrogen sulfite gas - the source of the stench.

"Hopefully, we can cure this problem in the near future," Cupps said. "The pumps are very unreliable right now. If we can change the chemicals, we can ‘feed' the sewage so it doesn't produce Hydrogen sulfite gas."

The olfactory problems on Monticello Drive aren't limited to the outdoors. Resident Sue Kline said that the odor has filled her basement in recent months. A Delmont resident for the past 17 years, Kline is worried about what effects sewer gas - a mixture of gases produced when organic household waste decomposes - can have on her family.

"It's scary," Kline said. "I've read it can be toxic at high levels."

Cupps said that if the new chemicals work, the odor should be gone from Monticello Drive within the next month. Kline's neighbor Kelly Mazon said she has been promised something similar for the past three years.

While Cupps is optimistic that the chemical change will solve that problem, a long-term solution is in the works. Borough officials plan to solicit bids for a complete overhaul on the problematic pump station this spring. The project is expected to cost the borough between $400,000 and $800,000.

Fixing Cramer Pump Station has been on council's agenda for more than a decade, Council Vice President Cher Anderson said. She said she wants the station for it to be fully fixed by the end of her term in December, 2013.

"I've been on council for 18 years, and I've heard about this every month," Anderson said. "It will be done. I'm tired of it, you're tired of it and it's not going to get any better until we solve the problem permanently."

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