Stink from plaza to be alleviated

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Odor began when Pavilions grocery store opened in May.

By Nora Fleming / Special to The Malibu Times

Residents complaining of an odor emanating from an old septic system at Point Dume Village should find the problem resolved within the next 10 days, said Craig George, City of Malibu environmental and building safety manager.

George said he received roughly 15 to 20 complaints from area homeowners representing the neighborhood about a septic odor coming from the plaza since the Pavilions grocery store opened in May.

Kevin Poffenbarger, a consultant for EPD, Inc., a wastewater treatment consulting company, has been working on the problem.

In an e-mail to the city, Poffenbarger said the odor was coming from several sources, including a manhole, an eye wash station drain valve and an odor control blower. All sources have been or are in the process of being sealed, redesigned or replaced with new parts, Poffenbarger said. Part of the reason the problem still exists, he said, is a delay on parts that had been ordered.

“We remain committed to abandoning the existing system and installing a new below ground system for the entire shopping center,” Poffenbarger said.

He plans to submit a “completed response package” to the city at the end of the month, which will include a list of re-design ideas he hopes to put into place.

Lori Kantor, a Point Dume resident, said she started noticing an odor the week before the Pavilions opened, when new employees started arriving to the center. The smell, she said, typically becomes noticeable in the afternoon and on certain days it has been strong enough to cause her shut herself inside her home, closing her windows.

Kantor said she has written and called city staff officials, who, while responsive, she said might not be doing enough.

“I am quite concerned that the resolution of this problem may be taking longer than it should, because without any clear means of enforcement by the city [such as significant fines, limiting operations until the odor is abated], the owner of the center has little incentive to fix the problem quickly,” Kantor said.

Point Dume residents Karlyn Musante and Jonathan Selig also said they made calls and sent e-mails to the city about the issue.

City Councilmember Andy Stern said he received some e-mails from the residents and communicated with city staff about the odor issue. The last e-mail he received, Stern said, indicated the problem had almost been fixed, and he was assured that city staff was doing everything possible to help correct the problem.

Zan Marquis, owner of Point Dume Village, said he has supported all efforts to fix the problem as quickly as possible for a long-term solution.

“Upgrading and replacing the existing onsite septic system treatment system we inherited is an ongoing process we are committed to,” Marquis said.