Biofuel smell source

Officials believe a steaming fertilizer pile on Hartshorn Road in Greenwich may be at least part of the source of a natural gas odor in the area.

Courtesy of Middle Falls Fire Department

Cold weather that has hindered distribution and decomposition of farm fertilizer in Greenwich is being blamed for the strong natural gas-type smell that has been reported around the Greenwich area in recent days.

Greenwich Supervisor Sara Idleman said the farmer who has been storing the fertilizer hopes to spread it Tuesday or Wednesday, which was hoped would solve the problem.

A number of agencies have been trying to locate the source of the odor since the middle of last week, when fire departments got numerous calls about possible gas leaks in the region. The odor coincided with the arrival of bitter cold air.

“It’s been bad,” Cambridge-Greenwich Police Chief George Bell said. “It’s a very nasty odor.”

No leaks were found, but the smell was eventually traced in part by Middle Falls firefighters to biosolid fertilizer piles on Hartshorn Road in Greenwich. The fertilizer has produced gas that has not dissipated because of cold air, and farmers can’t spread it because of the cold, Middle Falls Fire Department shared on Facebook.

“In this case, the frigid weather has played a huge part in the owner not being able to get the product dispersed in a timely fashion,” the Fire Department posted. “Once the product had water (snow) introduced into it, a normal cooking action started to take place, just as you would see in mulch or compost.”

The farmer has been using the fertilizer for 10 years, but Idleman said the weather created a “perfect storm” where he couldn’t spread it, and the cold weather kept the smell and vapors from rising as they normally would.

A picture of a steaming pile of fertilizer, with a vapor cloud hanging over it and not dissipating, was posted by the Fire Department on Facebook. Hartshorn Creek runs near the farm, and the odor and vapors have followed the creek and seeped through the valley, Idleman said.

The DEC, Washington County Department of Public Safety and local fire departments have been working since last week to find the source, and they are working with a supplier, Casella Organics, as well.



Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on

Load comments