When you have a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail. Even aware of this fact, it is difficult not to imagine how the D-NOSES approach and methods might have helped in situations that are reported in the media. By the time these reach the media, the frustration of the residents and the entrenchment of the emitters is such that only the courts remain as a possible way to resolve the issues.
Some of the core tenets of the D-NOSES methods, such as effective odour tracing, co-created solutions and feedback loops, and proactive community engagement could help avoid conflicts – see below for examples how.
Recently complaints from residents living nearby a landfill have been complaining about a persistent smell like bad eggs. Previously the landfill operators had explained that heavy rains had affected the work on the landfill and caused extra smells, for which they apologised, and said they did not expect it to continue. According to the residents, it has. But the persistent winds have been in the opposite direction, meaning the smells might be coming from somewhere else. Using the OdourCollect app combined with the ProOlor retro-trajectory model could help to pinpoint the source and therefore facilitate a solution.
Similarly, in Bromley, New Zealand, the small town is surrounded by 274 industrial sites that could be the cause for their chronic issues with bad odours. Years of detective work by officers of the city council and activism from volunteers have been unable to conclusively demonstrate the source of the smells. Their method included a 2-week period walking around the area that identified 60 potential sources, followed by detailed assessments at 16 sites. This constant focus on identifying possible emissions could be replaced by a much more efficient and direct focus on real time impact measurement and tracing through OdourCollect.
Improvement & Feedback Loop
In Wales the village of Boldewyddan is under lock-down while the pet food factory continues to operate and regularly produces a foul smell when they process dry pet food. The company says it had its permit for 40m high chimney denied resulting in 35m high chimney which is the main reason the smells persist. But they are committed to resolving the problem through some of the latest technology. A possible compromise would be to focus more production on wet food during the lock down, while engineering work can be carried out afterwards to mitigate the smell as more dry food is produced.
In Cornwall, where a creamery continuously emitted a “fishy” odour, the residents started with the conciliatory stance that they can live with an occasional bad smell as they appreciate the jobs that the company brings to the area. But after long delays and empty promises, they now demand action through the environmental agency which could put the creamery’s environmental permit at risk. Instead, the D-NOSES engagement model could have helped both sides come to an understanding of how much odours and how often could be considered acceptable while compromise was still possible.
When there is good communication between stakeholders, then things can go much more smoothly. In Frankfurt, Germany, the police have helped communicate with citizens about the planned maintenance activities at the nearby water purification plant. These will force a pause on the thermal treatment of exhaust air which will likely cause smells for residents nearby. By explaining the cause and need for the inconvenience, as well as the duration, the residents are less likely to complain and cause problems.