Noxious fumes cause CMDHD Harrison office to evacuate

By Rosemary Horvath
Correspondent

A noxious odor that occasionally permeates the area around Larch Road in Hayes Township has an undefined source.
Spokesperson for DTE Gas Service area reported the odor that evacuated the Central Michigan District Health Department on Sept. 21 was not a gas leak.
Steve Hall, health officer for the health department, said the staff had complained of a strong natural gas odor about 8:17 a.m. upon arrival.

“DTE was contacted and we were advised to evacuate the building. DTE sent an employee out to investigate the situation. We received the all clear from DTE at approximately 9:11 a.m.,” Hall said in an email reply.

“We did not equate this incident with anything involving the landfill,” he replied to whether the odor could be connected to the nearby Northern Oaks Landfill.
Hayes Township resident Ray Elliott, a longtime critic of the landfill he blames for noxious odors that surround his home regularly, again had appealed to the county Board of Commissioners a few weeks ago for help.

“The smell is gross. I am here to let you know it is still happening,” he told commissioners.
The Review had contacted the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality previously several times over the last two years. Complaints submitted by Elliott to DEQ were investigated multiple times but showed no link to the Waste Management landfill operation.

One DEQ environmental engineer walked Elliott›s property and surrounding area. Rather than the landfill, he surmised the odor came from a stagnant swamp in the woods behind Elliott’s property. Sawdust from a nearby lumber mill drifting and falling into the swamp and decomposing could cause a strong odor.
His thesis however was never substantiated.

Joel Woodruff, owner of Billsby Lumber on Larch Road, said Wednesday he doesn’t have a swamp anywhere on his 40 acres. Wood cutting doesn›t produce fine particles of sawdust but rather small, coarse chips, he said.

Sending the chips airborne would require a brisk wind, Woodruff indicated, adding that he’s never smelled an noxious odor in the area.

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