The Smell in This Canadian Town Is Just Unbearable

Fish sauce factory stopped operating in 2001, but the liquid is still causing problems
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2019 7:38 PM CST
Updated Feb 13, 2019 6:45 AM CST
Canadian Town Trapped in a Fish-Sauce Nightmare
Stock photo of barrels used to make fish sauce.   (Getty Images / galitskaya)

The residents of a small Canadian town say they've been plagued by a wretched smell for more than a decade. The CBC digs into the plight of St. Mary's in Newfoundland. It's home to 400 residents and the shuttered Atlantic Seafood Sauce Co. plant, which opened in 1990 and began making a fermented seafood sauce that's a Vietnamese food staple. It was reportedly housed in 150 tanks, each of which could hold 3,300 gallons of sauce. The plant's operations were halted after food inspectors allegedly found the sauce being made under unsanitary conditions in 2001. Though the company was acquitted years later, production never resumed—but the fishy liquid remained. Residents say the smell is unbearable. Deputy Mayor Steve Ryan has been inside once, and had this advice for would-be visitors: "Come in with a vehicle you don’t want to drive no more."

A clean-up effort that began in 2016 only made some headway before being stopped after some disposal issues. Ryan alleges the plant's drains were filled with cement. "The tanks are still leaking some liquid down, but now it's running on the floor, and it has nowhere to go," he says, describing pools of it up to four inches deep that have solidified. The Canadian Press notes the cleanup requires liquefying what has solidified and carting it out; Ryan puts the cost at $700,000, well beyond the town's means. They've again asked the province to handle it, and should know its decision in March. Ryan recounts talking to the owner of one clean-up company who came to evaluate the site. "He was taken aback a little bit by there's so much waste here and there's no rodents ... He said: 'Rodents know when something is toxic.'" (The smell of another popular sauce has been designated a "public nuisance.")

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