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Angry residents pack Brawley meeting

February 16, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — There is something about the Brawley Beef plant that stinks, literally, and has residents angry and concerned for their homes and health.

The waste ponds at the plant, which opened about a month ago, are causing a stench and a roar in response from angry residents.

During a City Council meeting Tuesday, Hugo Dominguez said he is displeased with the odor.

He, along with a room half full of angry residents, wanted answers regarding how the city is going to handle the odor issue.

Adelina Gonzalez told the council the smell brings her nausea every day. She said she liked coming home to work in her garden but now is forced to stay indoors.


Catalina Martinez said she is worried not just about her property but her health. She added she has an asthmatic in her home and is concerned for that person's health.

Council members John Benson, Jo Shields, Steve Vasquez, Mayor Toni Carrillo and City Manager Jerry Santillan assured residents they are working on the issue and hope to have it resolved soon.

Sandy Walker, a "sub-consultant" to Tom DuBose, who is the liaison between the city and Brawley Beef LLC, told the audience of steps being taken to resolve the issue.

She said four slow-speed air circulators called aerators that initially were planned to be installed in the third pond were installed in all three ponds.

Joel Bleth, president of Solar Bee Pond Circulators, the company that manufactures and installs the aerators, said the company has installed two extra Solar Bee aerators.

Each pond now has two Solar Bees to help produce a thick aeration cap, or layer of air that will block the odors that come from beneath the ponds.

Beneath the ponds are biostimulants and enzymes that cut most of the waste along with the odor. However, they aren't fully operational yet.

Bleth also told residents and the council there is a problem with a pipe that feeds the waste into the first pond.

The pipe sticks straight up from the bottom of the pond, pushing the flow of the water to the top of pond.

Bleth said that causes a problem for the Solar Bee because it disrupts the layer created to block the odors and sends all the waste from the bottom up.

He added plant officials are working to fix that. He said he is confident once the pipe has been fixed the smell will decrease.

Walker told a reporter she is confident the problem can be resolved.

"Yes, I'm sure it can be resolved. I have a great deal of confidence in the Solar Bees, enzymes and biostimulants," said Walker.

She added according to the manufacturer of the biostimulants, results can be seen within days and be completed within weeks.

She said the biostimulants and enzymes were completely installed Tuesday.

In other city business…

· Santillan gave the council an update report on the Festival Cos. interest in bringing more development into the city.

Santillan told the council the company only submitted a preliminary project application, not an official one.

He said the city responded to that preliminary paperwork with requirements and materials that would be needed for the paperwork.

City Planner Gordon Gaste said the company is looking at all the different types of business it could bring into the city.

He said Festival is talking about a lot of options, from a movie theater to a grocery store to an anchor store with smaller stores around it.

He added the city isn't really sure what Festival will stick with but has shown an interest for the property south of Del Norte Chevrolet.

The company will have to wait for the official application to know what the company will be seeking to develop.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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