UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. — An overwhelming odor lingers at the Seafood City Supermarket in University City, Missouri. 5 On Your Side learned on Monday that the problem was coming from the former business near 81st and Olive Boulevard.
It was more than gnats swarming the market Tuesday morning.
Crews wearing hazmat gear picked up pounds of the pungent problem: fish, canned goods and produce that have been rotting away.
Corean Davis lives a few blocks away from the condemned building.
"We can smell the odor especially when it's hot and the wind is blowing. I thought it was a dead animal or something died. I didn't think they would leave the food behind I didn't think there was still fish there, I thought they would take it away!" Davis said.
Back in March, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health ordered Seafood City Supermarket to shut down after saying some products were improperly stored and it operated without a health permit. The suffocating stench has been circulating ever since.
"It's probably been in there for several months. The odor was getting worse over the last few weeks. I don't know if a hole was developed in the roof and the odor may have come from there," Dr. John Wagner, the director of Planning and Development for University City, said after visiting the site Tuesday.
Wagner said the city flew a drone over the building to learn more. But, the drone images haven't been returned yet.
On Tuesday morning, crews took out the produce. The plan was to get to the back of the building where the seafood was located.
"They estimated there could be five to six — 7,000 tons of seafood back there," he said.
The city contacted the California owner of the former seafood market, Six Fortune LLC, after the aroma grabbed Wagner's attention. The city asked him to clean it up. Wagner claims the owner came back and said he was currently looking for quotes to resolve the issue.
"To get it cleaned up was really an issue between the property owner and tenant, so they weren't taking care of it fast enough. We'll pay for it upfront but the owner is aware he's paying for it," Wagner added.
Wagner said it costs $7,000 per day to clean.
As quickly as this smell took over, the city moved fast to stop it.
"This is bad. As soon as it became a public health issue, we got involved," Wagner said.
Wagner said it could take a few weeks for everything to get cleared, cleaned and completed.
5 On Your Side reached out to the owner but he has not provided a comment yet.