What could be causing the mysterious unpleasant odor Pearland residents have been reporting through TCEQ complaint channels since August of last year — primarily from the Shadow Creek Ranch subdivision (shown above) between 288 and FM 521 south of Clear Creek? TCEQ’s Andrew Keese spoke with the Houston Chronicle recently about the 26 previous and ongoing investigations, which are triggered whenever a finger is pointed at a new possible emitter of the smell. So far, Keese says, no odors have been officially detected that qualify as a ‘nuisance condition’, but he encourages residents to use the TCEQ’s odor log form to help the search effort by describing “the precise character of the odor, [relevant] weather conditions, and times” when the smell is noted.
Before you ask, yes: TCEQ knows about the 60-ft tall mounds of garbage right across FM 521 from the subdivision, at Republic Waste Service’s Blue Ridge Landfill (visible in the bottom left corner of the above photo as a pinkish blob). Pearland residents previously sought to keep the landfill from more than doubling in acreage and nearly tripling in height (and blocking the operation of several Doppler Radar stations in the process). The landfill (which started accepting garbage several years before Shadow Creek Ranch’s developers broke ground nearby) will eventually get to pile as high as the 170 ft. allowed by its expanded TCEQ permit — but per a 2009 settlement agreement with the city of Pearland it will have to wait until 2021 before rising to only 130 ft., and wait another 8 years after that to reach for its full vertical potential.
Keese says that the odor investigations so far have looked at sources including waste disposal operations, various nearby chemical manufacturing sites, and wastewater facilities, adding that the hunt is complicated by the range and variety of reported smells, which suggest multiple sources. The organization will continue to literally sniff out the problem, conducting odor surveys and taking air samples for analysis.
- State discusses mystery odor in Shadow Creek [Houston Chronicle]
- Foul smell disrupts lives of Pearland-area residents [Houston Chronicle]
- Previously on Swamplot: Blue Ridge Landfill Settlement: Shadow Creek Ranch’s New Race Against Waste; Raising a Bigger Stink: Shadow Creek Ranch Residents Still Fighting 170-Foot Uphill Battle; Hurricane Detection System To Be Blocked by 170-Foot-High Pile of Garbage
Aerial photo: Shadow Creek Ranch