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January 29, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — With the new beef-processing plant here continuing to create a stench, steps are being taken today by plant officials in hopes of curbing the problem.

Tom DuBose, the city of Brawley's liaison to Brawley Beef LLC, said plant operators are installing devices today they think will eliminate the odor.

Those devices are meant to address the smell on an interim basis as the beef plant's three waste ponds fully "mature." It is thought once the pond systems are fully mature, the stench will cease to be an issue. However, that could take 60 to 90 days.

DuBose said beef plant and city officials are determined to deal with the issue immediately.

As the ponds continue to mature — which means the bio-stimulant processes that break down waste are fully operating — devices installed today should provide relief, DuBose said.

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Those devices, called Solar Bees, are slow-speed air circulators called aerators. They will be placed in the first of three waste ponds — where much of the odor emanates — to create an aeration cap or a layer of air that will block odors.

In addition, DuBose said, injection pumps will be added to the first pond to feed in chemicals to hasten the process of breaking down the waste.

DuBose said of both steps, "We think potentially it could knock down almost all of the smell."

However, he said if the steps are not completely successful in eliminating the odor, further measures will be taken, DuBose said, including the use of more chemicals.

Residents should start to notice a difference within three days. The devices will start to operate either this afternoon or by Wednesday morning.

"We are not going to make people wait 60 to 90 days for these ponds to mature," DuBose said.

Greg Beck, chief operating officer of Brawley Beef, has apologized for the odors but added the problem will not be permanent. He said the facility has been designed to prevent such odors.

The three ponds in the facility are designed to collect waste from the harvesting and processing sections of the plant. The ponds break down the waste so it can then flow into the city's wastewater system.

City Manager Jerry Santillan has said the city is aware of the odors and said it is an issue the city is going to address.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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