Odor sensors installed on the westside to help detect where foul smelling chemicals are coming from

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — What is that smell on the westside of Jacksonville?

Action News Jax first told you in October about the “sickening odor” Murray Hill residents reported smelling. Since then the city has had many more complaints about a foul smell in the air. Now, the city is one step closer to finding out what exactly that smell is and where it’s coming from.

Officials said every complaint matters.

“This is a long time coming. Roughly around October of 2020, we started receiving numerous complaints of odors issues,” Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board member Charles Garrison said.

With the help of Envirosuite technology, we may finally get some answers.

“We will be able to hopefully see where things are predicted to go as well as where they’ve been,” Jacksonville Environmental Quality Division Chief Melissa Long said.

Workers installed the first of 13 smell sensors and two weather stations across town on Thursday.

Long said the sensors have three detection units inside that measure hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and volatile organic carbons.

“The sensor has a relative number that it equates to different concentrations of those chemicals to give us a relative odor strength from 1-5,” Long said.

She also said they hope they can detect where odors are coming from and where they’re going.

She said they do have an idea what kind of chemicals are causing the foul smell. The next step is finding out where they are coming from, and when.

“A lot of what we think is happening right now is inversion-related. It has to do more with what’s going on with the weather,” Long said.

The sensors are set up near manufacturing facilities and in neighborhoods.

“I feel very confident that those are going to pick them up and tell us something,” Long said.

Long said the 12-month study cost $125,000. She hopes to have some data back around May.

City officials encourage you to keep calling and keep making those complaints. You can call (904) 630-CITY or file a complaint through the city’s website.

They said it will actually help this study so they can pair complaints with data coming in.