'Ooh that smell' traced to steaming fertilizer too cold to spread

January 02, 2018 05:58 PM

GREENWICH - If they could talk, the cows in the field along Hartshorn Road might be saying, "Don't blame us."

There is an odor coming from around here, but it's not from the animals.

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Wherever you go around Greenwich and Middle Falls, people are talking about that smell.

"No, it's not pleasant at all," said Cambridge-Greenwich Police Chief George Bell.

People have been smelling it for several days. Some describe it as similar to leaking propane or natural gas.  

"We were getting calls on a daily basis. Initially, I can tell you that Greenwich Fire and Middle Falls Fire were going out two and three times a day when this came on," said Bell.

It turns out it is a natural gas, but it's not the kind you'd heat your home with.

It's steaming piles of farm fertilizer at the Ellsworth farm on Hartshorn Road, a couple miles outside the village.

Normally, the odor wouldn't travel far. But this isn't your typical compost and this hasn't been a typical winter. 

According to Middle Falls Fire Chief Steve Wilbur, the fertilizer in the piles is an increasingly popular bio-solid which contains human waste from the Boston area.

Typically, when it's spread on the farmer's fields, the odor dissipates, but it's been too cold to spread and the steam just  sits just above ground level.

And according to Greenwich Town Supervisor Sara Idleman, the aroma from the clouds makes its way along a creek and down into the population centers of the town and village.

The fire chief says there's no harm to the public and this kind of fertilizer has been used for years.  

But until it's spread, which could be Wednesday, the odor will likely continue.

Chief Bell says because residents can't be sure you're smelling the fertilizer, keep calling National Grid, their gas provider, or 911 if they think they have a leak.



Mark Mulholland

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