FRENCHVILLE (AP) – Northern winds have been sending a stench of manure from across the Canadian border, the people in this St. John Valley town are tired of holding their noses.

“It smells like acid or sulfur, and it’s really strong. The last couple of weeks have been really bad,” Frenchville Town Manager Philip Levesque said. “It’s an international problem.”

Levesque said the odor comes from a chicken manure composting facility in New Brunswick.

People in the town of about 1,200 say smells from the plant along the St. John River are so bad when the north wind blows that windows and doors must remain closed and outdoor activities are curtailed.

They are worried about potential health problems from the smells, which started 18 to 24 months ago. A survey has been mailed to residents find out how the odors have affected their activities and whether anyone has gotten sick from them.

Levesque said complaints to Canadian and Maine environmental officials have brought no corrective action, so now the town is inviting politicians and government officials from both sides of the St. John River to meet with local residents Feb. 16 to air the issue.

Levesque believes chicken manure is brought to the composting site from all over the Province of New Brunswick. He said a Canadian town across the river, St. Hilaire, New Brunswick, also has been plagued by the stench.

Percy Thibeault, a resident of the area most affected by the smells, said a committee called Citizens for Clean Air has been formed to deal with the odor.

“This is affecting real estate valuations. They are going down,” said Thibeault, adding that the problem is made worse by commercial pigpens operating west of St. Hilaire.

“It’s affected our quality of life,” Thibeault said. “We can’t have barbecues, can’t open windows and doors because of the smell. It’s a nuisance.”

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