Compost plant investigated as source of odor problem
by Beckye Randall
Following numerous complaints from locals concerning a foul odor lingering in the Marysville air, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) has given Everett-based Cedar Grove Composting 30 days to locate the source of the odor and suggest actions to remedy the situation.
In a prepared statement issued July 10, Steve Banchero, president and CEO of Cedar Grove Composting, assured residents the company is taking the issue “very seriously.” In addition to its ongoing monitoring, the compost company has stationed an odor inspector in the area to make daily reports.
“To control odors in our Everett facility, we use state-of-the-art fully enclosed technology designed to minimize odors during the composting process,” Banchero wrote. However, he maintained that between April and July some of the organic material received by the facility had already developed odors due to collection, transportation and weather issues.
“It seems worse on really hot days,” said Marysville resident Karen Fischer Lamoreux, “and especially right around the Staples and Albertson’s shopping area and just east of there.”
Lamoreux has called the PSCAA hotline to register a complaint about the smell but hadn’t received a reply from the agency. “I hope that’s because they’ve received so many calls they can’t respond to them all,” she said.
Jeff Maki, a resident of the Strawberry Hills area east of the Allen Creek center, agreed. “It’s getting to the point where we don’t even go out in the evenings anymore and enjoy our decks and yards,” he said. Neighbors at a recent community yard sale all commented on the “horrible stench,” according to Maki.
“I’m wondering why the EPA and other governmental regulatory officials haven’t done something about this,” he added.
Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall sent an official letter to PSCAA on July 9, passing on comments made by residents who had contacted City Hall about the issue. As of that date, Kendall stated that the city had received well over 100 phone and e-mail complaints.
Kendall’s letter was not intended to cast blame, he wrote, “but to convey the impacts that this odor has had on our citizens.”
Cedar Grove Composting has applied for a permit from the City of Everett to expand its Smith Island operation to capture methane gas and generate electricity from composting material. According to Allan Giffen, director of Everett’s Planning and Community Development Department, the company has requested a 30-day suspension of its application while it deals with the PSCAA investigation.
“When they notify us they’re ready to proceed with the application, a period of public commenting will be available,” said Giffen. Residents who wish to be notified of the company’s permit process can contact city planner John Jimerson at (425) 257-8737 and ask to be made a “person of record” in the case.
Cedar Grove Composting has operated its Smith Island facility since 2004, but saw peak volumes of materials processed in June of this year. In April the company was granted a permit to increase its volume to 228,000 tons of material per year, up from the previous 123,000 tons.
Banchero pointed out that the composting operation, which also has a facility in Maple Valley, has diverted 4 million tons of organic materials from local landfills since its founding in 1989.
“Odors emanating from our facilities are not toxic or harmful,” Banchero continued. “We do not receive or process raw manure. Odors from our facilities generally have an earthy smell, much like a forest floor. They do not smell like cow or chicken manure.”
Banchero’s letter indicated that Cedar Grove Composting welcomes visitors to its facility. The Everett site can be reached at (425) 212-2515.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s hotline for complaints is 1-800-552-3563, ext. 6.