Smell continues to plague West Allis office building

Wastewater has stopped, but odor remains in property

March 25, 2014

West Allis — Everyone thought the sewer smell plaguing a West Allis office building would go away when two neighboring companies stopped loading up the sewer with wastewater, but the smell has only gotten worse.

For the last six years, employees at an office building housing We Energies, 500 S. 116th St., have felt ill and some have gone home sick, said Brian Manthey, We Energies spokesman.

Sewer fumes have emanated from restrooms, but other fumes have come through the building's ventilation system.

The city has stepped in because of a possible health hazard. It notified the newer of the wastewater companies that the discharge limit was lower than what was pouring into the sewers and flows have now been reduced to the proper limit, Development Director John Stibal reported last week to the Common Council Safety and Development Committee.

Another possible source of the smell is a plumbing leak, and city officials had hoped that smoke testing would find one. Testing was done, but the plumbing proved tight, Stibal said.

City officials will seek a solution when they meet with representatives of We Energies, the two wastewater companies, Elite Environmental and Central Waste Treatment of Wisconsin, both of 360 S. Curtis Road, plus the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and other companies that also are on the sewer line.

The meeting is intended to happen by the end of March or in early April. If the fix doesn't work, officials will be back before the committee to decide what to do.

If the city has to, it can close Elite down, Stibal said.

But that might make a bad situation worse, worried Jeff Chmielewski, Milwaukee area facilities manager for We Energies. Since the two companies started abiding by the 70 gallons per minute, he said, "We've had odor on a more regular basis."

Stopping the companies entirely might lead to worse consequences, he cautioned.

Kevin Crosby, Elite Environmental president, favors the theory that some toilets at We Energies are improperly installed, allowing sewer gas to seep out. A plumber Crosby hired to check the We Energies building found some poorly installed toilets that could be to blame.

Elite will pay for all the toilets to be reseated at We Energies, he said.

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