The tiny Town of Occoquan likes to pride itself on being unique, but residents are not complaining now that their community is slightly less distinct. Occoquan is being deodorized.
The historic former milling town in Prince William County, a popular tourist attraction, has long been plagued by foul odors -- the unhappy consequence of being a short distance downwind from the Lorton landfill in Fairfax County.
Two changes -- one recently implemented, the other coming soon -- should mean the end of the aroma that frequently hovers over and around Occoquan's numerous restaurants, boutiques and antique stores, according to Prince William and Fairfax County officials.
A "lime treatment system" has been installed at the City of Alexandria's wastewater facility, so that sludge from the plant -- which is buried at the Lorton landfill -- will not smell so bad.
Further, according to Fairfax County Public Works Director John W. diZerega, by spring, Alexandria will no longer be burying sludge at Lorton, instead will be shipping the waste to a location farther south in Virginia. Fairfax County incinerates its sludge, so burial is not a problem, diZerega said.
The public works chief said he could not promise that a putrid breeze will not blow toward Occoquan occasionally, but he said it will not be with the same frequency and unpleasantness of the present.
The odors from Lorton have been a longstanding grievance for Occoquan residents, and the problem at times has polluted relations between Fairfax and Prince William counties. "This good neighbor effort by Fairfax County has been a long time coming," said Prince William Supervisor Kathleen K. Seefeldt (D-Occoquan).