Timaru Odour Pilot – businesses report back on likely causes
We undertook a pilot project in February 2021 to gather odour information and data in the Washdyke and northern Timaru area. Having now analysed this data, we are working with businesses to reduce the impact on residents of odour reaching beyond business boundaries.
We will be providing updates on this page throughout the pilot.
Two Timaru businesses have investigated the likely reasons why they were found to be emitting offensive odours in February 2021.
Alliance Smithfield (northern Timaru) and South Canterbury By-Products (Washdyke) were requested by Environment Canterbury to establish the likely causes for offensive and objectionable odour beyond their property boundaries during a Timaru Odour Pilot project in February 2021.
Both businesses, who voluntarily took part in the pilot project, have now reported back to Environment Canterbury on their initial findings, which included information on operational equipment and processes, as well as identifying potential areas for resolving issues.
Management plans to reduce odour
Southern zone manager Chris Eccleston says the next step will be to work directly with the businesses on a management plan to reduce odour impacting the Timaru community.
“The aim for these businesses is to become compliant with their resource consents and our regional plans. We’ll report back to the community on progress and the adaptive management plans that will be put in place for both by the end of May.”
Residents encouraged to keep reporting odours
While this process is underway, any new complaints or Smelt-it app reports will be dealt with through the normal compliance framework. Residents of Washdyke and northern Timaru are strongly encouraged to continue to report odours using the Smelt-it app. Continued reporting will be an important part of ensuring that measures being taken to improve the odour situation are effective as quickly as possible.
Other Washdyke and northern Timaru sites that were identified as causing nuisance odour beyond their boundaries during the pilot are also being investigated.
“These businesses have also identified areas for improvement. We will be monitoring to see if these result in a reduction in odour reports,” Eccleston said.
Environment Canterbury will continue to work with other odour-emitting businesses in Washdyke/northern TImaru to ensure they are managing odour appropriately, and that they make any changes necessary to improve.
Please note that this pilot focused on northern Timaru and Washdyke, not other areas of Timaru that may also have odour-emitting sources. In other areas, please report any odours using our incident response hotline.
Canterbury District Health Board's Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink said that the risk of long-term health effects associated with the odour is considered to be low.
However, repeated or prolonged exposure to odour can be stressful, and the person experiencing this may become particularly sensitive to the presence of the odour.
Acute health effects may vary between individuals since perceptions of, and sensitivity to, odour can vary widely. If the symptoms persist or you are experiencing effects, such as eye, nose or throat irritation and/or have a pre-existing medical condition then you should speak to your GP.
Note: Canterbury Community and Public Health provides public health services to the South Canterbury population in alignment with the South Canterbury District Health Board.
Our recent odour pilot in Washdyke and northern Timaru has established the two main businesses that are emitting odour beyond their property boundaries.
The pilot ran for the month of February, with residents reporting odours via the Smelt-it mobile device app. This data was then combined with weather data and wind information, on-the-ground reports from incident response officers, and an independent odour assessor’s report.
During the pilot, 235 individual Smelt-it reports were logged, from 111 unique users. The most commonly used category to describe the odour was “meaty, rancid, dead animal, decayed” (70% of the reports). 92% of all reports rated the odour as objectionable.
Odour sourcesOf our pilot partners, the two businesses found to be causing offensive and objectionable odour beyond their property boundaries were Alliance Smithfield (north Timaru) and South Canterbury By-Products (Washdyke). Other sites that met the threshold will be dealt with through the normal compliance framework.
Some other businesses in the area were found to be causing odour that did not meet the “offensive or objectionable” threshold.
Environment Canterbury Project Lead Ruth Sarson says: “We will be working closely with these companies to help them to become compliant with their resource consents and our regional rules. Both companies appreciate that there is significant community concern around this issue and are willing to work with us to address the problem.”
Environment Canterbury officer assessments substantiated many of the community’s Smelt-it reports, including 31 in Washdyke and 11 in northern Timaru. As a result, during the pilot period, eight notices of non-compliance were issued (seven to Alliance Smithfield and one to South Canterbury By-Products).
“We are incredibly grateful to the public for taking the time to be part of this process, which has allowed us to understand and document this problem in a way not previously possible. We all hope that this will be the beginning of a greatly improved situation for residents and businesses alike,” Sarson said.
A public meeting was held to discuss the findings of this odour pilot, which ran from 1-28 February and used the Smelt-it app to learn more about odour issues affecting residents of Washdyke and northern Timaru.
Please continue to report any odour you may smell through our incident response hotline on 0800 765 588.
- Smelt-it reports,
- businesses on their operations,
- weather data and wind patterns, and
- the independent odour assessor.
We want to thank members of the Washdyke/Timaru communities and the local businesses that have taken part in the pilot.
We look forward to reporting back on our findings at the end of March.
Timaru residents are helping find the source of unpleasant odours by using the Environment Canterbury smelt-it.web.app this February.
A pilot project, targeting Washdyke and the northern Timaru area, aims to gather better odour information and data using the free website app.
For the past week, Timaruvians have been able to use Smelt-it to easily and anonymously record noticeable odours, which are then investigated by a team in the target zone using mapping technology and odour assessment methods. In addition, businesses in the area are proactively taking part in the pilot, working closely with Environment Canterbury to help identify potential odours as they are reported.
Feedback on Smelt-it and other analysis will be analysed and shared with the public and local businesses once the pilot ends. However, our team working on the ground in the Washdyke and northern Timaru area is already developing a better understanding of the range and nature of odours in the area.
Southern zone delivery lead Brian Reeves said having more ‘real-time’ reports coming through from the public is helping build the big picture of which businesses are emitting different odours at different times.
"Overall, the aim is to reduce odour reaching beyond business boundaries to reduce the impact these odours have on our community. With Smelt-it, we’re able to collect more data and respond in a timely manner, where possible. The more people that use Smelt-it when they smell an odour in northern Timaru, the more successfully we’ll be able to accurately pinpoint and assess a source."
The team have also had good feedback about how Smelt-it focuses on the impact on a person’s daily life rather than a numbered scale.
“We’re looking for meaningful information – like is the smell bad enough to stop you from enjoying being in your backyard? It’s a much more practical approach to monitoring odour impact,” said Reeves.
Two public drop-in sessions have also been held, where residents asked questions about the pilot and gave feedback on Smelt-it and their experiences with odour issues in Timaru.
“We had a good turn-out and the level of engagement was high. We’re confident those that came along will be telling all their friends and family to use Smelt-it if they experience a bad odour in the area.”
Background to pilot
- working with businesses in the area to get more information on their operations and timing of certain activities
- gathering weather data and monitoring wind patterns, and
- employing an independent odour assessor to spend time in the area to provide an impartial, outside perspective.
Southern Zone Delivery Lead Brian Reeves said that odour is a serious concern for many residents in the Washdyke and northern Timaru area.
"This pilot – and particularly the different data streams – will enable us to bring together odour reports, the physical impact on residents and the likely location at the same time. We hope this will give us a compelling picture of the situation, in a way we’ve not been able to before."
Reeves emphasises the importance of the collaborative element of the project.
“We are excited to work with both the community and local businesses on this pilot, all of whom have a collective desire to improve the situation for everyone involved, and particularly affected residents. The businesses we have spoken to are on board and cooperating fully.”
Learn more about the pilot and using Smelt-it with our frequently asked questions below.
We need to know where you were when you notice the odour and at what time.
We will then use wind direction and dispersion models to narrow down potential sources using a scientific approach.
Please see the FAQs on the Smelt-it tool for information.
Alternatively, you can call 0800 324 636 and talk to one of the team for help.