The “Sunnyland Stench”

I would be remiss not to cover a current stench-situation in the town where I was born and raised, Bellingham, Washington. (no, not a suburb of Washington D.C., foreign folk – the state of Washington, NW corner of the U.S.).

Awful odor wafts over Bellingham neighborhoods

Coffee roasters, manufacturer possible sources

BELLINGHAM — An unpleasant odor wafting through neighborhoods has residents plugging their noses and searching for answers.

The offending aroma is known as the “Sunnyland Stench” in reference to the Sunnyland neighborhood, where the odor seems most prevalent. But people in neighborhoods such as York and Columbia also have smelled it, said Patrick McKee, the Sunnyland representative on the Mayor’s Neighborhood Advisory Commission.

The odor, described by residents as “chemical” and “sweet,” has been a problem for more than two years but has become stronger within the last year, McKee said….

Read the entire article

tuna on whitebreadI hardly gave stench a second thought in Bellingham, growing up; it was just a fact of life. For the entire time that I was stretching into the 6’2″ frame I now occupy, the Georgia Pacific pulp mill was churning out emissions of one sort or another, down by the bay (it has in recent years severely cut back its operation). Its odor was so ubiquitous that a local publication once solicited opinions about what residents thought the “GP odor” smelled like. Opinions were of course, diverse, but the one I could relate to was “tuna on whitebread.”


Smells like Bellingham In the 1970s, Georgia Pacific’s “aseptic bay” broke down and became septic for a time. The best description I can give of the odor is: “crap, as in the brown stuff.” The day I first noticed it I was riding with my father in the car along Prospect Street, and I thought he had shat himself. I can’t remember how long the odor persisted, but even one day was too much.

I was a budding young musician at this time and I wrote a song about the stench, of which I can recall only one verse:

Oh, Bellingham, my little city by the bay
Just what is it, makes you smell that way?
Could it be good ol’ Georgia Pacific?
Or [name censored] feminine hygiene spray?

(alternative line for mixed company/the parson: “Or could it be your fields of new-mown hay?”)

Add to the above the following, and you have a recipe for a smelly little town:

  • When the wind is right, the stink of fish processing facilities may waft up from the harbor
  • It rains a lot, and standing water on vacant lots may take on a boggy smell, which has the odor of flatus when passing by. Best to avoid those locations when you’re on a date.
  • I’d say “leafmold,” but I don’t find that to be a particularly noxious odor. More “earthy” than noxious.
  • I always thought that roasting coffee over in Fairhaven (our “sister city” across the bay) had a smell akin to dirty socks. Not at all like coffee. Like socks.

As for the recent bad smell, I haven’t noticed, because I live in the county, outside of town. Out here, the air is fresh and sweet, except when the wind turns to the north and brings in eau de cow arse from the north county. Then a day at home is just like a day on the farm.

Praise it

Flush This

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