ANGRY home-owners are demanding a full investigation into the health implications of factory emissions that smell of “sausages, porridge and perfume”.
Residents in the Sealand Road area of Chester say they have been blighted by the sickly pong from the Ungerer plant for five years.
They have lodged dozens of complaints with Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) about the international company, which produces and processes essential oils and aroma chemicals.
Campaign group spokesman and mother Kate Brinklow, of Jesmond Road, addressed the council’s executive team at a meeting on Wednesday evening and urged them to take action.
She said: “We fear for our health. We can no longer enjoy the pleasure of sitting in our gardens or opening our windows without being assaulted by a strong, meaty chemical odour. Whether day or night, weekend or bank holiday, it seeps into the fabric of our homes.
“We fear for our children's health. We fear that what we are breathing in may be carcinogenic and harmful. There are play areas in close proximity to Ungerer and schools nearby.
“At least five families have moved out of the area, due to the pollution, and one family even asked to have their children put into temporary care while they looked for a new home. I’m asking you on behalf of our community to protect us from anything that may be harmful.”
The authority has confirmed it carried out air quality tests in April and May this year, the results of which will be published soon – subject to legal advice.
However, it also stated a review had taken place alongside Public Health England (PHE) into the factory’s emissions and found there was no health risk.
The council’s environmental health team had compiled a list of all chemicals used by the company that could be toxic or harmful if breathed in, and carried out tests, a spokesman said.
He added: “In all cases, the amounts used are either very low or not of health significance and insufficient to be measured meaningfully in the environment. This is very reassuring.”
But one resident, George Wheeler, said emissions do not have to be harmful to be in breach of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which defines a statutory nuisance as “any dust, steam or smell arising from industrial, trade or business premises being prejudicial to health or a nuisance”.
The Leader has received numerous calls from disgruntled residents who claim odours from the factory are affecting their quality of life.
Shirley Moore, of Gladstone Avenue, said: “The disgusting smells that are emitted both day and night are unbearable at times. During the night there is a smell that I can only describe as ‘sausagey’ and ‘porridgey’. These emissions wake me up regularly and I often feel nauseous and headachey as a result.
“Throughout the day we are then subjected to the synthetic sickly sweet perfumey smells again from the factory, that are equally as foul as the porridge smell and which catch in your throat.”
Ungerer has a liaison committee to monitor concerns.
It has introduced several measures to reduce odour levels, including an air extraction system “to aid the dilution and dispersion of odours from the flavours laboratory”.
It has installed an odour abatement system in its powder-blending facility and an activated carbon odour abatement system was installed in the fragrance building and a similar system also installed within the quality control laboratory to serve the oven.
A spokesman said: “Ungerer has worked extensively with the council to resolve the concerns of a small number of local residents and we were pleased to be fully exonerated in the council’s subsequent report.
“We take local residents’ concerns very seriously and would like to take this opportunity to assure all residents we do not emit any harmful chemicals into the environment.
“Having invested heavily in abatement technology over a period of years, we are confident Ungerer is not the source of alleged nuisance odours. As a responsible local employer of over 100 people that has operated on this site since 1929, Ungerer is committed to working to the highest levels of practice and we will continue to work closely with the council as they address residents’ concerns.”