AUGUSTA — The state has temporarily stopped pumping leachate from a closed former landfill containing mill sludge off Church Hill Road after unpleasant sewer smells permeated an area on the east side of the city.

Greater Augusta Utility District officials said they got complaints late last week from residents of neighborhoods surrounding its Riggs Brook Pump Station, which is near Sparrow Drive off Riverside Drive, and a “very noticeable odor” could be detected outdoors in that area and around the Route 3 bridge.

Brian Tarbuck, superintendent of the district, said the smell was tracked back to the former Augusta Tissue landfill site off Church Hill Road, where sludge from the former mill operation’s wastewater treatment plant was taken. Before the riverside property was seized by the city for nonpayment of taxes, the former mill site was run as American Tissue and for many years Statler.

The State Department of Environmental Protection monitors the landfill site and has capped it to try to prevent further infiltration by water. However, some water still gets into the landfill, and as a result the DEP periodically pumps the leachate from the site into GAUD’s wastewater system to be treated.

Officials believe that the odor that hit the area last week was likely caused by pumping water from the landfill that had sat and stagnated, becoming septic and giving it a rotten egg-type smell.

Pumping of leachate has been suspended from the site, and state officials are currently working to treat the leachate before pumping it to prevent the odors from spreading again.

David Madore, director of communications, education and outreach for the State Department of Environmental Protection, said the agency is currently testing the leachate to determine the most effective product to treat it with to control the odor.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: kedwardskj

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