Russellville is the county seat and largest city in Pope County, Arkansas, United States, and has a population of 27,920. It is home to Arkansas Tech University and Arkansas Nuclear One, Arkansas' only nuclear power plant. It is also home to a 36-acre animal byproduct rendering plant that has been operating since the 1950s under various owners. For DECADES, Russellville citizens have been suffering a significant odour impact from this facility. Russellville City Council asked for help to the EPA, but the reply of the EPA was: "we are dealing with pollutants no with odours".
In 2015, the city council of Russellville tired of not finding solutions to the significant odour impact of this plant decided to pass an ordinance about odour control. Unfortunately, this text did not change things much, so a couple of years later, another odour ordinance was passed. This second ordinance had a chapter authorising violators to be fined.
The owners of the plant, instead of working with the citizens to try to solve the problem, decided to fill a federal lawsuit against the ordinance. The result was that the City Hall had to withdraw the ordinance. According to the Mayor of the city "We did do away with our local ordinance because, according to their argument, state law would prevail anyway," Horton said.
Unfortunately, this facility has just air scrubbers and a chemical program to combat odours. These systems have low odour abatement efficiencies for animal byproduct rendering plants. That is, chemical scrubbing will not do the job in rendering plants with odour complaints... it won't.
According to the owners, they have "invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in mechanical upgrades to the plant and on consultants whose speciality is odour control." This is probably not accurate: they have invested money in H2S control, which is not quite the same than odour control. With a tuned chemical scrubbing you may have a high efficiency of hydrogen sulfide removal, but you will still get a very significant odour load at the outlet. The odorants here are incondensable COVs that are hardly oxidized by scrubbing.
The company argued that the ordinance, which targeted the company despite no judicial determination that the plant constituted a nuisance, denied the company due process. It also noted that the plant has always been properly licensed and has complied with air and water quality permits from the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Mayor mentioned that when asked for help to the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), this organism pointed out that they deal with pollutants, not odours.
The DEQ has a wide experience dealing with noise, another known environmental stressor, but unfortunately, it looks like after decades of odour complaints, they haven't much clue about how to deal with this impact. Probably cause according to them they "do not pollute".
A pity cause after decades of complaints, not only the citizens of Russellville but also the plant owners deserve a solution to this problem.
Find more info in this article by Linda Satter
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