Operators of a sausage casing factory have apologised to the Wangaratta community for a vile stench that has permeated several parts of the community for weeks.
The stink reached a point where the CFA was forced to move its training operations near the smelly site out of concern for the wellbeing of its volunteers.
Van Hessen Australia said aerators at its South Wangaratta waste treatment plant had broken down, were being fixed, and that the distressing odours should dissipate by next week.
The multinational company had received a notice from the Environmental Protection Agency threatening fines up to $396,000 and cancellation of its licence.
"Van Hessen is sorry that they could not stop the odour sooner and they express their sympathy to the surrounding area that is suffering from this," a company statement said.
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The company said the stink had been caused by low levels of dissolved oxygen in Van Hessen's lagoon which was started by the breakdown of several aerators.
Van Hessen Australia managing director Tony Greaves said: "Depending on the weather conditions, our surroundings started experiencing odours beyond our boundaries.
"We reported a first complaint to the Environment Protection Authority of Victoria in mid-November."
Van Hessen said it "regretted that their surroundings suffered from the odour and has been doing all it can to suppress them".
It said it understood the EPA was happy with the steps the company had been taking to solve the issues.
Mr Greaves said the company had taken action to try to solve the problem before it received a notice from the EPA.
"Unfortunately, these measures could not make the odours disappear," he said.
He said after receiving the first complaint it hired an "odour suppression cannon".
"We wanted to prevent our neighbours' experiencing odours while working on the rise of the dissolved oxygen level," Mr Greaves said.
After the EPA received more complaints it issued an improvement notice on December 2.
EPA North East regional manager Renee Palmer said she expected Van Hessen to move quickly to implement the requirements of the notice.
Mr Greaves said: "All requirements were met on Monday, December 5.
"The dissolved oxygen levels are almost back to the necessary minimum level to which all the specialists advise that the odours should reduce and finally disappear."
Mr Greaves said to prevent reoccurrence of the stench, Van Hessen had conducted a review of its waste treatment plant with external specialists.
"We are in the process of implementing all of the recommendations as soon as possible, in co-operation with the EPA, as we don't want our neighbours to suffer from this, now or in the future," he said.
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