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Supervisors discuss odor log

Advocacy group brings up further issues with Central Bi-Products

May 22, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

The Emmet County Board of Supervisors heard from a citizens' group and representatives of Central Bi-Products rendering plant at its Tuesday morning meeting.

Roy Gage said he was concerned about information that was missing from the odor logs at the assessor's office, and that there was a possible lack of response to some odor complaints from whomever carried with them the odor hotline phone on a particular day. Gage commended Central Bi-Products on its effort to clean up its yard.

Dale Bednarek, chief operating officer of Farmers Union Industries, parent company to Central Bi-Products, said, "Overall we've accommodated everything that we were intended to do, and I think you're seeing the admirable results."

Bednarek said he never has promised, nor could they guarantee a 100 percent odor free operation.

"Whenever you have moving parts and dead animals, you're going to have an upset once in a while. But overall, what you've seen from us as a company, we've put the capital into the building: brand new doors, brand new receiving area, brand new scrubber system. It's all installed and working properly." Bednarek said.

Later, Bednarek said, "Never do we intend to cause an odor."

Central Bi-Products is now only picking up dead animals in Emmet County, Bednarek said. He added the company will not expand the number of animals it is picking up.

"Our mission is to make Estherville a great town to live in," Bednarek said.

Mark Mitchell, a member of the Citizen's Advocacy Group, said the results have not been satisfactory. "With several odor calls in the last few weeks, this community deserves better," Mitchell said.

Kevin Wegner said the situation should not be Emmet County and its concerned citizens against Central Bi-Products. Wegner said Central Bi-Products made the improvements because the community forced the issue after extreme odor issues.

Wegner refereed baseball games in Estherville last summer and heard spectators who had come in to watch from competitor school districts state, "Let's get out of here. It stinks." Wegner said restaurants and gas stations in Estherville were losing out because visitors left town quickly instead of staying to dine and shop.

Mark Gruwell brought up a concern about the trucks that pick up animals from the packing plants driving uncovered. State law does not require the trucks to have tarps.

Gruwell stated according to the Conditional Use Permit, which remains in full force, all trucks have to be tarped or covered. Compliance with the Conditional Use Permit was one element in the settlement agreement between Emmet County and Farmers Union Industries last fall when the parties avoided trial by settling out of court.

"I think it would be a lot easier and more streamlined if we follow the ordinance that's currently on the books, and that is the requirement that observation of odors shall be made at the property line of the establishment causing the odor," Gruwell said.

Gruwell said the county's own ordinances do not allow for a variance other than for building and physical property sizes and configurations. "Variance does not encompass odor issues, not because I say so, but because the ordinance says so," Gruwell said.

"It would be a lot easier to take these measurements on the site on the property line, the site where the odor is coming from," Gruwell said.

The supervisors and members of Concerned Citizens discussed the variables that can happen when measuring odors with the Scentometer device that was put into use last fall. When an odor complaint comes in to the hotline, an official goes to the site of the complaint and uses the Scentometer to measure the odor. Supervisor Roger Hash said he has measured a four reading at the egg plant but no odor complaints had come in from the plant. Depending upon wind, humidity, and other variables, a four could indicate noticeable odor or not indicate noticeable odor.

The current standard is that if an odor is logged, the facility causing the odor must limit it to acceptable levels within four hours. There has not yet been a reading that reaches a level four when it is checked again in four hours.

Supervisor Tim Schumacher said the odor threshold must be lowered to meet what is comfortable to the community.

In other business, the supervisors approved a utility permit from the county engineer's office, and punted to the next meeting a resolution for a secondary roads private drainage tile crossing road right-of-way permit to allow time for reviewing the wording of the resolution.

Emmet County Sheriff Mike Martens presented the MART (Multi-Agency Response Team) 28-E agreement, updated. The agreement covers Emmet County and all of the cities in the county, and the cities of Algona, West Bend and Emmetsburg, Palo Alto County, and the pending addition of Kossuth County.

Deb Tietje, Emmet County Veterans' Affairs Director was granted the reappointment of Gene Haukoos as Commissioner for Veterans' Affairs for a three year term ending June 1, 2022.

The next meeting of the Emmet County supervisors will be Tuesday, May 28 at 9 a.m. in the board room of the Emmet County courthouse.



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