Biloxi Ward 5 Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick presented the Harrison County Wastewater Board with a petition. It's filled with more than 200-signatures of neighbors who are upset over the unbearable odor that's been coming from the West Biloxi Wastewater Plant.
Mike Fitzpatrick said "It has been proven by the amount of odor that constantly emits from this plant, that the West Biloxi Treatment Plant has not been operating in an effective manner".
Several residents came to complain in person. Charlie W. Murphy said "We just can't tolerate this smell, where you go outside and you gotta gag".
His son, Charlie Murphy, agreed. He said "It's embarrassing to even have friends over if you have a cookout or something like that. I have a pool in the backyard that we can't even use a lot of the time because it smelled so bad".
Optech runs the West Biloxi plant. The president blamed the problem on microbes that he says are not breaking down the sludge. Bob Monette said "At some point, you have gas build up. With Hydrogen Sulfide gas build up, it emits, or it could emit a horrendous odor. That's what we unfortunately experienced in the last six weeks".
Harrison County Wastewater Director Kamron Pahlavan pointed to another concern. He says everyday, more than two million gallons of sewage go from East Gulfport to the West Biloxi Treatment Plant. He says diverting that waste to the new treatment plant off Seaway Road in Gulfport, will help alleviate some of the problem.
Instead of finger pointing, board members urged Pahlavan and Optech to hurry up and find a solution. Long Beach Mayor Robert Bass said "All I want is the smell to go away, or brought down to the lowest possible level. Whatever it takes, using this, not using this, whatever, let's just come up with a plan".
After the meeting, all sides met to come up with an action plan to stop the stench. Optech and Ennix, the company that sells the microbes to the Wastewater District, agreed on a plan. They're going to remove all the old sludge from the digester and fill it with fresh microbes, that will help break down new sludge that comes into the West Biloxi plant.