Foul odor nauseates Manassas residents

MANASSAS, Va. — In recent weeks, some neighbors in the City of Manassas have been dealing with a nauseating situation. A foul odor has been coming up through the manhole covers in their community and even into their homes.

Erica Washington, who lives in the Wellington area of Manassas on Sandy Court, says they’ve had headaches, nausea and burning throats because of the smell, which she describes as, “Pretty horrendous, a mixture of raw sewage and rotten eggs.”

She says they can’t even escape it by heading indoors.

“It’s emanating throughout the whole neighborhood and also has been permeating our homes.”

Washington says her neighborhood has dealt with this stinky situation before in 2012. But says the City of Manassas came up with a solution, a new water pumping station. And that seemed to have solved the problem until about three weeks ago.

“In May we started to have this problem and it came back with a vengeance. It was much stronger than what we were dealing with prior,” says Washington.

The smell is a hydrogen sulfide odor from wastewater from Micron Technology, a semiconductor processing plant not too far from the neighborhood. She says city officials met with her neighborhood Friday evening and told them they were looking for short and long term solutions.

Tony Dawood, deputy director of the Manassas City water and sewer department, says they nailed down the source of the smell. As wastewater passed through the pipes in the neighborhood, the smell came through vents in the pipes. He says the city is working on eliminating the problem.

The smelly wastewater originated in a temporary storage pond. The water, from the Micron plant, has built up. Dawood says the plant does pre-treat its wastewater before releasing it into the sanitary sewer system.

Significant rainfall contributed to the buildup at the holding pond. The city also has limits on how much wastewater it’s allowed to send to the Upper Occoquan Service Authority (UOSA), a wastewater treatment plant. All jurisdictions have limits.

A side effect of holding the wastewater, especially from the plant, is that it starts building up hydrogen sulfide. The pond has been chemically treated and there are monitors to keep an eye on the levels.

For now, Washington says the smell is less intense — but it’s still there.

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