- Associated Press - Saturday, October 22, 2016

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (AP) - A foul odor tied to a sewage line in South Sioux City has sickened some residents and forced them to flee their homes as officials look for the cause.

The odor is coming from 15 houses in a five-block area of a neighborhood where about 40 people live, South Sioux City administrator Lance Hedquist told the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/2esC7lr ).

Hedquist said there’s also a “horrific” odor coming from the Big Ox Energy plant, which recently started operations in the city’s Roth Industrial Park about two miles from the affected houses.

Big Ox, a Wisconsin-based renewable energy firm, converts organic industrial waste into methane gas.

Hedquist said Friday that the new plant and the homes share the same sewer line.

Beyond that connection, “how they are tied together, I can’t totally tell you,” Hedquist said.

Resident Rob Baker said Friday that the toxic sewer smell led his family to evacuate the house for the weekend.

“This morning at 5 o’clock it woke us up,” he said. “We were coughing and choking - it’s toxic. We just are not going to live there until this gets fixed.”

At least one other person has left a home because of the smell, and another person reported becoming physically ill from the fumes, Hedquist said.

Hedquist said building inspectors have looked at 10 of the affected houses, and he believes the problem is from faulty traps in plumbing drains that are designed to stop sewage odors.

However, he acknowledged that it’s “extremely unusual to have 15 houses in the same area having the same problem. That just doesn’t make any sense at all from that standpoint.”

Baker said a plumber he called when the odor first arose said something has increased pressure in the city’s sewer line, causing it to blow into homes, even through properly-working traps.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com


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