It's late afternoon on Tuesday, May 15 and cousins Nicole Smith and Mackenzie Smith are walking swiftly along Front Road in Dildo, their shirts pulled up over their noses.
The wind is blowing in off the beach, and there's a thick, unpleasant smell in the air.
Nicole, a student at nearby Woodland Elementary, doesn't like the stink.
"It's torture every day when we get off the bus," she says.
The odour is coming from the beach, where a large quantity of seal oil came ashore last month following an accidental discharge from the nearby seal processing facility in Dildo South.
The incident created quite a buzz in the Trinity Bay community as officials with Carino Processing Limited scrambled to clean up the mess, and area residents sought an explanation for the unusual event.
Photos of the scene show a beach covered in a white, slimy oil. Much of the oil has since dissipated, but evidence remains on the rocks, floating on the water, and, of course, in the air.
So what caused such a mess?
The CEO of Carino, Dion Dakins, said it was an "operational error" that led to the release of about three tonnes of what he described as "food grade, certified Omega 3 seal oil."
He said the incident occurred the "first week of April," and much of the oil floated across Dildo Arm to the community of Dildo.
Dakins said company officials are "not happy" with the incident, and took the prescribed measures to clean up the mess, in consultation with provincial and federal environment departments.
"In this instance, there was an error and (the oil) went over the top of the gate," said Dakins. He described the incident as "very unusual," and said "operational procedures have been improved" to ensure a similar discharge is not repeated.
The company attempted to use absorbent pads to soak up the oil, but this proved ineffective. The Seaside volunteer department was then called in to pump water onto the beach, which helped dissipate the oil. However, this also raised the ire of some boat owners at the local marina, since the oil began to seep in around their vessels, and attach to mooring lines.
The company hired several people to help with the cleanup, which went on over a period of about 10 days, said Dakins.
"I think you'll find we were responsive," said Dakins.
Dildo resident Fred Elford, who lives not far from the beach, seemed satisfied.
"This is not something that's going to kill anyone," said Elford.
Whale processing took place in Dildo South in the 1970s, and Elford said having animal oil on the beach was a "regular thing" in those days.
"It's no big deal to me," he said.
Two local men on the wharf, who asked not to be named, also commended the company for its response, but cautioned that area residents might not be so understanding if such discharges became more common.
"It was just a mistake," said one man, adding "nobody around here is against the plant."
As kids, he added, it was impossible to safely walk along the beach because of the whale oil and carcass parts.
"There was pot head meat all over the place," he said.
Dakins said "no corrective action was required" because the oil is biological, but he said the company took action in order to reduce any discomfort or inconvenience to residents of Dildo.
Though he wouldn't disclose a figure, Dakins acknowledged there was a loss of revenue, "plus the time and effort to get the situation rectified."
It was a setback in efforts to rebuild the struggling and controversial seal industry, which has been hampered by poor markets in recent years.
The company received a $3.6 million loan from the provincial government to ensure there was a hunt this year, and allow the company to purchase seal pelts and blubber or fat.
Dakins said the company purchased all 68,000 of the seals taken during this year's commercial harvest. The total allowable catch was 400,000 animals.
"It was the busiest year in a number of years," said Dakins.
He said "raw processing," which lasted about four weeks, had ended at the plant, though roughly 25 employees remained on staff as of last week.
Attempts to arrange interviews with the departments of Environment and Conservation and Service NL were unsuccessful.
A spokesperson for Environment stated the following in an email: "The Department of Environment and Conservation has conducted a preliminary investigation at the facility. The operator has been very co-operative during the process and is working closely with the department to remediate the situation."
The director of communications with Service NL, Hugh Donnan, did not respond to email and telephone messages.