A view of International City. Dubai Municipality officials have discounted claims by residents of the community about a strong smell emanating from a sewage treatment plant in their vicinity. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Municipal officials have rejected claims by residents that the sewage treatment plant near International City has been making them ill, attributing their concerns to the “psychological effects” of living close to the plant.

“We do not have any chemical waste and it is all biological, and there are no toxic fumes. We have a new sewage plant in Jebel Ali and most of the load has been diverted there,” said Mohammad Najm, Director of the Sewage Treatment Plant Department at Dubai Municipality.

“The [sewage] treatment plant in the area has been better confined than it used to be and we use chemicals to treat the bad odour. The smell has reduced almost 90 per cent in the last three years, and [the residents] might have psychological effects from living so close to the sewage treatment plant,” he said.

Najm said the smell couldn’t be attributed to the sewage tankers either since the number of trucks at the unit had gone down from 4,000 in 2009 to less than 200 of late.

However, residents living in Emirates Cluster told Gulf News that they have been suffering from headaches and sore throats for the last four weeks due to the fumes wafting through the area at night.

Trevor Baxter, a resident of Emirates Cluster, spoke about an “awful type of smell at night”, which he said was felt acutely from “from 2am to 4am”.

He added: “My health has been affected because the smell is toxic, and my neighbours also complained of the fumes and have fallen ill. Despite contacting [the municipality] several times, the problem has not been solved or rectified. I think they’re taking advantage of the fact that we’re sleeping, and that is when the toxic fumes are released,” he said, pointing out that the cluster is located just about 400 yards from the sewage plant.

A landfill operated by Tadweer, a private waste management company, is also located in the vicinity.

An official at Tadweer said it was highly unlikely that the landfill was responsible for the bad odour as Dubai Municipality inspectors visited the premises on a daily basis to ensure that all safety measures were adhered to.