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In the Flemish Region of Belgium, the Environment Inspection Section (EIS) of the Ministry of the Flemish Community is responsible for the enforcement of the environmental health legislation. Thislegislation obliges plant operators to take all measures to prevent damage and nuisance. This alsoapplies to odour nuisance. However, in the absence of clear criteria regarding the acceptability of odour pollution, the assessment of odour problems remains a subjective issue. Moreover, in industrial areas, several similar odour sources (companies) may be close to each other, making it difficult to establish their contribution to the observed odour (nuisance). The most convenient way to make an objective odour evaluation is to collect a lot of observations. For this, the collaboration of the neighbourhood is indispensable. Usually, this is organised in the framework of an odour investigation by an official expert on behalf of the EIS. The main aim of these investigations is to determine whether or not the odour pollution is acceptable for the neighbourhood. Through questioning of the neighbourhood, using odour diaries and telephone surveys and sniffing team measurements, executed by the expert and the environmental inspectors, the odour assessment is objectifiedand tailor-made maximum acceptable odour levels are deduced. As a result, the odour sources are ranked according to their share in the nuisance and the odour nuisance they cause is evaluated. For important sources, it is possible to calculate the odour emission reduction needed in order to meet the maximum acceptable odour level. Based on the conclusions of such odour investigations, the EISdetermines its further attitude towards the companies causing the odour nuisance. By communicatingthe results of the investigations and the further enforcement approach to the neighbourhood, abetter public support for the solution of the odour problem is obtained.

A case study illustrates the importance of neighbourhood involvement to support enforcement action.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2006

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