Ventura County

Sensors set up to detect hazardous air in Port Hueneme after concerns from residents

Odors may be harmful


PORT HUENEME, Calif. - A mysterious bad odor was causing high concerns for several residents living in Port Hueneme back in January. Residents believe the odor is coming from the Wastewater treatment plant and new odor sensors is detecting if the fumes are hazardous.

“There's a few different smells, but most of them are a strong split pea soup smell, and then there is a chemical smell that sometimes burns your nose,” said John Ortiz, a Port Hueneme resident.

For nearly a year, residents at Surfside Complex in Port Hueneme have been complaining about the unexplainable odor.

“Sometimes its during the day, and sometimes it wakes you up at night,” said Ortiz.

“We have targeted that the problem is coming from facilities that are outside of our city limits,” said Rod Butler, City of Port Hueneme City Manager. “The Oxnard wastewater treatment plant, and the paper plant both of them are on Perkins Road in Oxnard, but it is having an impact on our residents.”

The smell left many wondering... is it hazardous?

“We undertook fundraising and putting up sensor arrays,” said Robert Bromber, the director of Hueneme Foundation. “ When we are done with the project there is going to be a total of five sensors around Port Hueneme shores.”

The city of Port Hueneme paid for the installation of the newest sensor. The devices will measure and gather information to show exactly what is in the air. According to the Hueneme Foundation, that forked over funds for the rest of the sensors, the data is premature, but chemicals have been detected.

“Currently, the two sensor arrays are picking up traces of gases and the ones that we are seeing more than anything else is NOX, and NH3,” said Bromber.

When asked if people living in the area should be worried, Bromber answered with yes.

“NH3 is quite a harmful gas and that is the one we really want to trace,” said Bromber. “H2S is more of a quality of life issue. It is a rotten egg smell and we are quite certain we know where that comes from.”

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