Rotten material to be removed from the damaged sewage treatment plant

Two trickling filters at Bromley sewage treatment plant in Christchurch were damaged by fire last year.

CKC News

Two trickling filters at Bromley sewage treatment plant in Christchurch were damaged by fire last year.

Work to remove rotting material from Christchurch’s damaged sewage treatment plant to end a foul stench that has plagued the east of the city for months will begin this week.

Two bacterial filters at the Bromley factory were destroyed by a large fire on 1 November.

Since then, the community has endured a smell that has been variously described by residents as rotten, pungent, and very unpleasant.

The smell worsened in the weeks leading up to early April, but the city council said work to remove the decaying material causing the stench would begin on Thursday.

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Southern Demolition and Salvage had been contracted and would work 12 hours a day, six days a week to complete the cleanup, said Helen Beaumont, head of the tri-water council.

“They aim to complete the task in four months, which means that by early September one of the main sources of the plant’s stench will have been eliminated,” she said.

Southern Demolition carried out a trial material removal in December and were aware of the “tremendous work ahead”.

The stench, which fluctuates with the weather, has caused distress to nearby residents, and the supply process has been expedited to get the smell up as quickly as possible, Beaumont said.

Christchurch City Council

Bromley resident Vickie Walker told councilors the smells coming from the town’s sewage treatment plant had made her unhappy. (First published April 6, 2022)

The fire-damaged trickling filters have concrete walls eight meters high and contain the volume of around 10 Olympic swimming pools of material to be removed – totaling around 26,000 cubic meters.

The materials will be disposed of at the Kate Valley landfill, where they will be treated as hazardous waste.

Beaumont warned that there would be days when the smell could get worse as the materials buried inside the bacteria filters were exposed and started to rot.

“We know that’s the last thing residents want to hear, but at least we now have clear deadlines around when the moving work needs to be completed,” she said.

“In the spring, plant stench should be much less of a problem.”

The cost of the task would be funded by an interim payment the council had received from insurers, Beaumont said.

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