Grafton residents asking fish processing plant to eliminate pervasive odor

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GRAFTON, Illinois — Residents who live near a plant that processes Asian carp in southern Illinois say it's producing rotten smells, despite the facility's odor-free assurance.

A Grafton resident who lives near the American Heartland Fish Products plant asked local investors last month to find a solution, but the smells have continued. Before the facility opened, investors Ben Allen, Bryon Lebaeu and Gray Magee told residents the "100 percent green facility" wouldn't omit any unpleasant odors.

"They looked at all of us, and swore there'd be no smell, and said if there was they'd take care of it," said Mike Arnold, a former city employee who lives about a mile away from the plant. "I do believe there is a solution and believe they can fix it ... I want them to be proactive and deal with it more seriously. We let it move forward with the stipulation that there would be no smell and if so they would take care of it."

Magee, who's also the chief executive officer of American Heartland Fish Products, told the (Alton) Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1v5buRz ) the plant's partners are meeting and experimenting with companies that deal with industrial odor issues.

"We live here too. We're not outsiders coming in, we are listening and paying close attention to what they are saying," he said. "It's something we are very sincere about it, and want to be good neighbors."

American Heartland Fish Products opened in April as a carp-rendering plant, which turns the invasive species into dehydrated meal and fish oil.

"There is a local issue with odor that has been unanticipated and unintentional with this new, unprecedented solution to the larger environmental issue of taking Asian carp out of these rivers," Grafton Mayor Tom Thompson said Monday.

The Grafton City Council will continue to look for a solution to end the smell's invasion into residential areas, according to Thompson. A public forum is set to be held at City Hall on Tuesday evening.

"Basically my opinion is pro-business, pro-growth and pro-development. It always has been," said Arnold, who plans to speak at the forum. "I would not like to see the plant shut down, but I would like to see a solution."

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is expected to visit the plant later this week.


Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.thetelegraph.com

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