British Columbia

Something stinks in Port Moody, but what?

Odour investigators are hunting for the source of a pungent stench that's been hanging over the neighbourhood of Easthill Park in Port Moody for nearly a week.

'Sometimes rotten eggs, but maybe not rotten eggs,' is how the stench is described by those who smell it

There's a scent on the wind in Port Moody that has prompted dozens of complaints and reports to Metro Vancouver's air quality department. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Air quality investigators are hunting for the source of a pungent stench that's been hanging over the neighbourhood of Easthill Park and near the Barnet Highway in Port Moody for nearly a week.

The nasty smell — or smells — have prompted more than 120 complaints and a lot of consternation about the origin of the mysterious stink.

Metro Vancouver's air quality investigators got their first complaints on Sunday and have pinpointed one potential source, but continue to search for other origins.

People describe the nauseating smell as chemical or sulphur-like.

"It's a very strong odour that's being described as chemical, maybe petro-chemical. Sometimes rotten eggs, but maybe not rotten eggs," said Kathy Preston, Metro Vancouver's air quality regulations program manager.

The stench was first reported Saturday evening.

At that point fire officials responded in case it was evidence of a potential gas leak or other dangerous chemical, but that was ruled out. FortisBC sent a service technician who determined the smell was not related to natural gas.

There's some suspicion that a bad smell is coming from rotting algae after an algae bloom. This is low tide at Rocky Point Park pier in Port Moody in July 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Preston has had to deal with dozens of complaints and reports related to the putrid aroma.

"I would say there's plenty of human emotion. People are at home right now because of the pandemic, more than they might be. It's summer and people want to have their windows open and they don't want to deal with unpleasant smells. It's understandable," said Preston.

Some Port Moody residents say they've encountered the malodorous smell along the Shoreline Trail, others as far away as Westhill and the north part of Port Moody and Orchard Park.

The stink comes and goes, and there's lots of online debate as to whether it's more of a sewage scent or chemical.

But all agree, it's bad.

"Personally I think it smells like heavy fuel/chemicals as opposed to bodily waste," Adam Mada wrote on Facebook.

Potential source found 

This week Preston said her stink detectives did pinpoint one source at an industrial property near the inlet shore. That material has now been properly disposed of, but she didn't want to give too much detail as there's some concern this may not be the source of all the odours.

She said it may be a combination of origins, including an algae bloom in Burrard Inlet, plus industrial sources.

So, for now, everybody continues guessing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yvette Brend is a Vancouver journalist. Yvette.Brend@cbc.ca or on Twitter or Instagram @ybrend

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