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Some San Francisco residents complain about smell as city upgrades sewer system

The good news for San Franciscans is that the city is working to upgrade its 150-year-old sewer system. Less popular is the stink which that work is creating in a few neighborhoods. 

The odors are coming from a project happening along Panhandle Park. The city is using a method known as “cured-in-place pipe,” where a felt tube is saturated with a styrene resin. 

That resin can create strong odors when it’s curing, according to a San Francisco Public Utility Commission spokesperson. 

“It definitely smelled like metals,” said Jess Hart, who owns the store Fuzz and Sway.

Hart, who opened her high-end vintage clothing store just over 2 months ago, said the smell was so bad last Friday that she had to start burning incense. 

“It was rancid,” she said. “I made my store smell really nice because I sell clothes.”

A spokesperson for the SF PUC wrote in a statement: “While we can’t completely eliminate the sometimes unpleasant odor during this temporary work, we can ensure that there are no concerns for public health, especially within state standards.”

But Hart said the exposure led to physical pain.  

“I got a headache for sure. I’m really sensitive to scents,” she said. 

The co-owner of Palmyra Restaurant across the street, Ibtesam Fawaz, echoed the complaint about a headache. 

Fawaz also said she was worried the strong smell would further hurt her business as work continued, as scheduled,  into May of 2024. 

“It’s very bad business. For everybody, for us,” she said. “You know, we work hard to keep our business.” 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the SF PUC said the agency will monitor smells coming from the project and lessen the severity of it where they can, but continued to insist that it was not a danger to public health.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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