Residents angered by “noxious” restaurant smoke

By Meg Hill,

Residents angered by “noxious” restaurant smoke 

Residents of one CBD building say they’ve been dealing with a pollution issue in some ways worse than the bushfire smoke that’s blanketed the city – it permeates double glazed windows and doors.

Residents of the Little Hero apartment building on Russell Place said they had been dealing with regular occurrences of “thick, cloying, noxious smoke” since August last year when a neighbouring business began to operate a barbeque. 

“It smells toxic and it has the ability to permeate double glazed doors and windows, which is extraordinary,” one resident said.

“I certainly didn’t think I’d be living in a cabin in the woods when I moved into the city seven years ago.”

“I know the noise associated with city living, I know the traffic associated with it, and I know the smells associated with it. Up until August last year it had never been an issue.”

A business located next to the apartment building – Treasure Star – runs karaoke and a bar and allegedly began emitting smoke in August when a barbeque was added to the business operations.

A short open chimney at the back of the business allegedly emits the smoke metres away from the apartments. Residents said they complained to the City of Melbourne on multiple occasions. 

“I contacted the council in September. They sent health inspectors who stood in Russell Place with me and the smoke was all around us,” a resident said.

“Although the only equipment they had was a phone to take photos, nothing to test the smoke or toxicity level, they gave the impression they were concerned.”

“But when I got a formal response via email, they said it wasn’t an issue.”

A spokesperson for the business told CBD News they were compliant with laws and regulations.

“Health inspectors have visited us two or three times and they’ve found us to be compliant,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ve done our best to minimise the effect on our neighbours, but we have a barbeque element so we can’t stop the smoke completely.”

“But if we’re found to have any non-compliance issues, we’re happy to change to be compliant, but we have been told we’re compliant.”

A City of Melbourne spokesperson said council staff had inspected the site twice.

“No smoke or odour was detected on the first visit in August 2019,” the spokesperson said.

“Staff visited again in October 2019 and detected a slight odour; however, it was not considered unreasonable or enough to constitute a nuisance under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act [2008].”

The spokesperson also said council staff were satisfied the business’s cooking exhaust had been regularly cleaned, but they would continue to monitor the smoke.

But the resident said the smoke forced residents to close up their apartments, and nothing was working as a solution.

“We can’t leave our apartments open at all, but we also get it inside making us feel sick even when we’ve had our apartments closed.” 

“It also means we can’t use our balconies to do anything, including drying our clothing because it ends up smelling like toxic smoke.”

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