Nassau County finds origin of stench, and the source may have a solution

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – What’s that smell? It appears residents of Nassau County finally have an answer.

Many have been sharing complaints about a sewage-like smell for years, and the county believes it’s narrowed down the source to a sludge site in Yulee that’s owned by Rayonier Advanced Materials. The smell has been especially noticeable along A1A and State Road 200.

PREVIOUS STORY: Unspecified stench has some Nassau County residents holding their noses

So -- what is a sludge site, exactly?

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection describes it as a site to treat and dispose of residual solids from a wastewater treatment plant. The odor is not toxic or harmful to anyone’s health.

“At first it’s disgusting,” explained resident Daniel Jones. “But, I mean, it only lasts for a few seconds on the drive. You can get used to it.”

A county spokesperson says they are aware of all the past complaints about the smell, but their hands are tied when it comes to a solution.

However, Rayonier Advanced Materials has submitted an official request to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to allow the use of lime at the facility for odor control.

This approach is safe and commonly used to absorb and minimize odor.

A county spokesperson says several factors contribute to the odor at the Yulee site — like lower temperatures and higher rainfall.

Rayonier has been operating in Yulee since 1976.

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.