By Kiet Do

MILPITAS (KPIX 5) — Milpitas mayor Rich Tran is following up on a campaign promise to do something about the bad odor that has drifted over the city for decades. Late in February, the city council approved $85,000 for a pilot odor monitoring program.

Devices will be mounted on city property like buildings or on top of light poles which could detect the presence of various organic compounds, gases and chemicals.

The goal is to trace the source of the stench, which residents have long suspected to come from the Newby Island landfill, the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility or the Zanker-owned recycling facility.

“‘I’m not here to point fingers. I’m here to make sure that the number priority is our public health. And ensuring that there’s no hazardous material or air pollution that the residents breathe everyday,” said Tran.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District will also be launching a year-long study of the air quality alongside the city of Milpitas. In the past, the district has made some progress in reducing the odors by requiring operations to be moved indoors.

The district has also made moves for the future installation of giant air filters.

Soumya Kandukuri always knows when she’s in Milpitas, not by GPS, but by simply rolling down the car window.

“Sewage, pervasive and unfortunate,” she said when asked to sum up the smell of Milpitas in three words.

Kandukuri is curious why Milpitas residents have put up with the smell for so many decades.

“I think that speaks to this generation. We won’t accept the status quo, that we want to do something about it, be active. And get to the root of the problem. I think that’s the kind of change-maker attitude that we need in this area,” she said.

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