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Our Opinion: The smell of money?

January 26, 2002

It is, some would argue, "the smell of money."

The stink emanating from the new beef-processing plant in Brawley is bothering some in the city. Others say they don't notice, and still others say they have noticed but they don't mind because that smell means people have jobs and Brawley is prospering as a result.

While a lot of promises were made about how modern and unobtrusive the beef plant would be, realists knew it would never be exactly, well, software design. Killing and cutting apart hundreds of large animals is never going to be a pretty process, and promises otherwise were so much hooey.

There will be waste products from such an operation and there will be smells. City and beef plant officials have said the odors will go away once everything at the plant is fully operational in 60 to 90 days. While we want to believe that and think the stink might significantly lessen, we think there will always be a bit of smell from the plant. Odors simply come with such operations.

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Fortunately, the plant is in a fairly isolated part of the city and when the west winds start blowing, as they do for much of each year in the Imperial Valley (and we should expect those winds to start blowing consistently soon) they will be blowing the smell away from heavily inhabited areas. But there are times in the summer and winter when the winds don't come, or when inversion layers or humidity hit, and any smell from the plant is going to linger.

We certainly support the plant, which is expected to soon employ 600 people with the potential for 1,200 jobs. Ancillary industries will surely locate in Brawley to work with the plant, which will mean even more jobs. Brawley and the Imperial Valley need good, stable jobs. And the fact that the plant will bolster our agricultural sector when things are so tough in the ag world is an added bonus.

As far as the smell lessening or going away completely, we'll see. For the next 60 or 90 days, we'll have to have the attitude people have in cities with pulp mills and other smelly industries: It's the smell of money. If things don't get better after that time, it will become known as the smell of Brawley, and something will have to be done about that.

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