UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. (KTVI) – Some residents living near the shuttered Seafood City supermarket in University City, Missouri, recently began noticing a pungent odor permeating the air — an odor stemming from the thousands of pounds of fish that were left behind to rot when the market closed in March.

“This is disgusting and irresponsible, and there’s no excuse for it,” Lolita Paiwonsky, a former customer, said.

“We were wondering if it was something in the sewer or something,” University City resident Constanza Scharfenberg added.

Concerned locals initially contacted University City officials as the smell became worse over time. Building inspectors confirmed Seafood City as the source, discovering tons of fish that had been left behind in freezers that were no longer running.

After the discovery, city officials immediately contacted the California-based property owner of the public health hazard posed by the abandoned seafood market.

The city also hired a company to begin clearing the market, an effort which has been underway for several days. A spokesperson for University City said the property owner is paying for the cost of the cleanup.

In addition to the stench, some nearby residents said they noticed an influx of insects to the area.

“We had to set up traps,” Scharfenberg said. “It was all around the house, inside and outside. … It was not good.”

Scharfenberg is hopeful the cleanup efforts will rid the neighborhood of the smell for good. It’s unclear exactly how long the process is expected to take, but workers won’t be done for at least a few weeks, the city estimates.

Seafood City had closed in March, following a visit by St. Louis County Health inspectors. Officials say thousands of pounds of fish were left behind in freezers, and there was no electricity to keep the freezers operating after the business closed.