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Beef plant odor not permanent, say operators

March 19, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Owners and operators of the beef-processing plant here want the public to know they are addressing any ongoing concerns about odors created by the facility.

They continue to say the scents that have angered some who live closest to the beef plant will not linger permanently.

The latest comments come a week before the county Air Pollution Control District's appeals board will meet in Brawley to consider issuing an abatement order for the plant that would require action to reduce odors.

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That meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. March 28 at the Brawley City Council chambers, 225 A St.

Company officials say with steps they are taking now, they are hopeful the odor concerns will be fully addressed before the abatement meeting.

In a press release, Greg Beck, president of Brawley Beef, stated, "Brawley Beef has been proactive and fully cooperative and will continue to provide actions cooperatively with the city of Brawley in its efforts to eliminate and mitigate odors originating from its process wastewater lagoons."

Company officials have said the scents are emanating from the wastewater pre-treatment ponds that are moving through a start-up process.

Company officials have said the odor is the result of the chemical processes that break down the waste taking time to come fully online. The chemical processes are close to being fully online and plant officials say there have been daily improvements in the effort to eliminate the odors.

"As the chemical and organic processes continue, the odors should continue to be reduced and eventually eliminated," Beck states in the press release.

The press release outlines the steps the company is taking to address the odor issue immediately.

Those steps include:

· utilization of wastewater consultants serving both the city of Brawley and the beef plant

· the installation of Solar Bees to create what is known as an "aeration barrier" over the wastewater lagoons

· injection of ferrous chloride into the lagoon system to neutralize odors

· addition of "bio shield," an organic stimulant to aid in accelerating the organic processes

· consultation with numerous chemical companies regarding recommendations for odor control

· conducting of tests to identify causes of the odor and identify solutions

· use of diffused air floatation units to further aid the chemical process

· performance of additional tests as recommended by Sandy Walker, a wastewater consultant for the city of Brawley.

Beef plant officials are expected to meet today with the county Air Pollution Control District to set schedules on the lagoon equipment installations and commissioning.

The APCD has become involved with the odor issue as its appeals board considers an abatement order for the plant. Such an order would mean the APCD would play a role in monitoring how Brawley Beef deals with the plant's odors.

Tom DuBose, owner of Development Design & Engineering in El Centro, who was instrumental in the effort to bring the beef plant to Brawley, said any abatement order would be done in mutual agreement between the county and Brawley Beef.

DuBose, who first served as the county's liaison to the beef plant and now is the city of Brawley's liaison to the plant, added the company is committed to eliminating the odors.

"This is a temporary issue," he said. "Steps have been taken to reduce the odors. It is an ongoing process."

The beef plant has been in operation for about three months. It has at least 600 employees and is processing 1,100 head of cattle per day. The goal is to expand to processing 1,600 cattle per day.

Also, if the plant proves successful, company officials have said it eventually might employ about 1,200 people at the beef plant.

While the odors have taken center stage, officials from throughout the Valley have said the beef plant is an important addition because of the job creation and boost to the agricultural and business community.

They have credited the plant with saving the local cattle industry while helping other elements of agriculture.

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

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