19 July 2023

EPA searches for answers as ghastly odour forces Tumut residents indoors

| Edwina Mason
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The beautiful mountain town of Tumut isn’t so appealing to residents right now with a foul odour permeating the air. Image: Tourism NSW.

A mysterious odour has left Tumut residents clamouring for diffusers and air fresheners and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) desperately searching for answers this past week.

The scent of rotten gas has greeted the entire community each morning, noon and night for the past fortnight, a smell so strong that many citizens are not only put off their lunch, but just about losing their lunch each day.

Tanya Parmenter said the stench was so bad it made her want to throw up and even though she had her house closed to stem the pong, it was still saturating her space.

“I live close to the lookout in Tumut but it’s everywhere – early mornings are the worsts but this morning (Tuesday) I’ve personally found it to be worse,” she said.

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Another resident, Deborah Wild, said the smell was hard to describe, but she said it was nauseating to the point where people could not spend time outside.

“I would liken it to a knackery or abattoir but many have described it as sulphurous and that could be mixed in but that’s not the dominant odour in my opinion,” she said, “definitely worse in the mornings through to early afternoon.”

Like Tanya Parmenter, Deborah said even a sealed house offered little in the way of defence.

She said the overarching community concern was whether the odour was toxic.

“We need answers desperately,” she said.

Snowy Valleys Council has been inundated with calls and say they are working with the NSW EPA to resolve the issue.

Several potential odour-generating premises in Tumut and the surrounding areas have been investigated and the NSW EPA are carrying out targeted odour surveys based on information received from the community.

It is difficult to identify the source of the odours as the complaints are originating from a variety of locations in the area, an EPA spokesperson said.

“We are using information from the community and surveys to narrow the search,” they told About Regional.

“Updates will be provided as investigations progress and the odour source is identified.”

This is not the first time Tumutians have been besieged by odours.

Just last September, Tumut Wetlands was closed to the public following the detection of wastewater overflow in the area.

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At that time a Snowy Valleys Council spokesperson said staff investigated the area following a complaint about a foul odour in the vicinity.

“Investigations discovered a maintenance hole on one of the main lines to the wastewater treatment plant had overflowed due to a blockage,” the spokesperson said.

Residents are encouraged to keep calling the NSW EPA to help identify the source.

Anyone experiencing odour impacts is asked to please contact the 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555 or email [email protected]

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