Students hitting the tennis courts near Palmer Field this weekend may be taking in more than just the rays and the fresh air — they could also be breathing in a foul odor wafting across the Hill.

Officials from University Housing and the University’s Department of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health opened up the access point to an underground filtration tank — from where the officials say the unpleasant smell is emanating — on the Hill on Monday.

University Housing spokesman Peter Logan said this underground filtration tank leads to an interceptor where waste, water and grease — from the dish washing machine and garbage disposal inside the Hill Dining Center — can flow through and separate out food particulates from the grease before it reaches Ann Arbor’s sanitary sewer system.

Though the tank is separating out the waste correctly, Logan said there is a problem with the system’s ventilation component.

“This particular tank we clean out about three times a year and we have been following the proper clean-out system but it is not venting correctly,” Logan said.

When officials opened the tank on Monday, it released an odor into the surrounding area around Mosher-Jordan and Palmer Field, Logan said.

Many students living in the area said they’ve noticed the odor for quite some time, but they couldn’t tell where it was coming from.

LSA sophomore Jessica Kildea said the odor smells like “eggs and sewage,” and that she first smelled it last year. She said she can sometimes even smell it from her room in Stockwell Residence Hall if she has the windows open.

“Sometimes it gets really bad and travels over here to Stockwell but most of the time it’s just over there toward Alice Lloyd,” Kildea said.

Music, Theatre & Dance sophomore Briana Stuart said she thought the odor may have been coming from the smoke stacks in the buildings near Mosher-Jordan, adding that recently the smell has become much more common.

“I noticed it (at) the beginning of the school year but more often now I’ve been smelling it,” Stuart said. “I think I probably smelled it at least two or three times this week.”

Engineering freshman Jonathan Rubins said he also noticed the smell at the beginning of the year and probably once every couple of weeks.

“When I walked outside, I’d keep my nose shut and breathe through my mouth,” Rubins said.

Though the smell may be unpleasant, Logan said the odor isn’t a threat to public health.
The University is currently trying to determine a time to clean the tank and inspect the ventilation system.

“We will try to schedule a time that will minimize further annoyance to students’ noses,” Logan said.

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