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Our Opinion: Make the stink go away

March 24, 2002

It's been just over three months since the beef-processing plant in Brawley opened amid excitement that the facility would create 600 jobs, save the local cattle industry and provide a spark to the sagging agricultural economy.

While that excitement has far from ended, there is growing focus on the stench that has proved an irritant to some who live closest to the beef plant. We would hate to see the stink become such a an issue that it overshadows and affects the success of the plant, but the issue must be addressed.

Brawley Beef officials said they are doing just that. They realize there is a problem and are taking steps such as adding hydrogen peroxide to the three wastewater ponds that have been a source of the odors. We can only hope plant officials are placing the focus they say they are on dealing with the issue. We also can only hope they are right when they say the stench is not a permanent problem.


People who reside closest to the beef plant deserve some consideration; it doesn't matter how many have a concern. Many have lived there for years and never banked on having a beef plant in their back yard. Most say they do not mind having the beef plant so close to their homes, but they want odors emitting from the plant to go away permanently. The smell takes away from their quality of life.

We urge people to make their voices heard — whether they have concerns about the odor or think the beef is addressing the issue — during a meeting of the county Air Pollution Control District appeals board at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Brawley City Council chambers, 225 A St. The board could decide to issue an abatement order against Brawley Beef ordering the company to address the issue.

We are pleased the beef plant is operating. The fact that the Imperial Valley's unemployment rate has shrunk to 14.5 percent is due in large part to 600 people now employed full-time at the plant. We envision a great deal of growth occurring as the beef plant gains speed and other businesses locate into the area as a result. We need that kind of economic development in the Imperial Valley.

Still, we do not want to see residents' concerns fall between cracks. We think it makes sense for the APCD to get involved in the issue and we support the idea of an abatement order as a statement to the community it is an issue authorities will be watching closely.

We want to see the beef plant and the Brawley community form a symbiotic relationship that will be long-term and lead to the betterment of the community and the beef plant. We want to see the beef plant increase in size and someday employ 1,200 people. That kind of employment would have a ripple affect that would ultimately improve the quality of life for a great many people.

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