PORTLAND -- People living in Portland's Sumner neighborhood near NE 89th & Emerson say this summer has been a living hell.
“ A living nightmare,” said resident Johnny Irvin. “It locks me in my house, at certain times you can't go out and do what you want to, it's pretty upsetting and it makes me gag.”
Rachael Warren said, “ On really bad days I just go inside because the odor is so overwhelming I just can't be out here gardening. This summer we've done a lot less gardening because of the odor.”
“The putrid, septic, sewage, smells permeating my backyard, my home, my office, my kitchen," added Patricia Irvin. "I'm sitting in my kitchen and I smell other people's waste.”
The smell they're talking about has been coming from Water Truck Service Inc. a waste treatment and disposal facility.
Trucks carrying raw human sewage from septic tanks arrive at all times of the day and dump their loads at the WTS Inc. facility at NE 89th and Killingsworth. WTS then treats the sewage and disposes of it in Portland’s sewage system.
“We've received several complaints over the last month. It's something we're well aware of and taking action on,” said Ross Caron with Portland Bureau of Development Services.
But the Chairman of the Sumner Association of Neighbors said they’re not acting fast enough. “The odor is noxious and chronic, the operation is illegal and the situation is unacceptable,” said Scott Somohano.
“They don't have a permit so it's an illegal sewer plant we have operating in our neighborhood,” added Somohano.
Caron agreed that WTS has been working without the required conditional use permit. “We've cited them for violation of city code. We're going to go as far as taking these people in front of the hearings code officer to get penalties up to $1,000 a day to have them start this process or to decide that maybe this isn't the best site for their business," said Caron.
The neighborhood association has been putting up flyers around the neighborhood to alert others about WTS not having the conditional use permit.
According to Caron, WTS missed it’s deadline to apply for the permit so it was getting fined $500 a month.
If WTS applies for a condition use permit, neighbors can only then formally comment on how its operation has impacted their lives. But if the company comes up with a plan to control the smell, city officials said, more than likely, a permit will be issued.
WTS has until September 26th to apply for the permit.
WTS has declined all of KGW's requests for an interview.