Residents get answers on east Madison odor

Residents get answers on east Madison...

MADISON, Wis. - All summer long, people who live on the far east side of town have been asking what’s stinking up their neighborhood. City officials now say they have an answer.

A woman who lives in the area first reached out to News 3 in July, saying the odor was so bad she had to leave her home. The smell has permeated the area since. If you drive through the Elvehjem neighborhood in the morning or afternoon, you’ll notice doors with closed windows and shut doors.

“We can’t open the windows some nights when we want to sleep in the bedroom,” longtime Elvehjem neighborhood resident Carl Burhop Sr. said. “The smell is pretty bad at times.”

It’s that smell that’s caused headaches, stomach aches and stress for homeowners, wondering what stinks and is what they’re breathing is safe.

“Their quality of life has certainly been diminished even if they weren’t having stomach aches and headaches,” Alder Denise DeMarb, District 16, said.

But after a survey conducted by the Health Department, city officials say they’ve found at least one source.

“Well, the results show that some odor is coming from the landfill,” DeMarb said.

The Solid Waste Division says a wet summer led to landfill gasses being produced sooner than usual. That, mixed with cool, calm nights allowed the odor to permeate the area. Officials say the odor is not expected to increase the risk of disease in the impacted communities and residents should see a significant reduction in odors if they were caused by the landfill, according to DeMarb.

To mitigate the smell, the Solid Waste Division is putting more covers over areas of the landfill to limit gas emissions, installing multiple misting systems and additional gas collection wells. But, they’re not sure this is the only source of the odor, so the Health Department is asking residents to still fill out the survey whenever they notice the smell.

Burhop Sr. adds that while he’s never smelled anything like this here before, he’s thankful to have some answers.

“That’s very satisfying that they know that there is a smell and they’re watching out for the people,” he said.  

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