Session set to smell out Park City compost stink
BY ED COLLINS Special to The News-Sun October 5, 2012 8:32PM
A mister sprays organic material made from grape skins to neutralize the odor of composting mounds of food scraps and yard waste at Nu-Earth Organics in Waukegan. The company also produces mulch from downed trees (background). | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 5, 2012 1:54AM
Mayor Steve Pannell has called a community meeting Oct. 18 to address the growing number of residential odor complaints being generated by a nearby Waukegan compost facility.
The public meeting for both Park City and Waukegan residents will take place at 7 p.m. at Park City Hall on Belvidere Road, followed by a regular meeting of the City Council. Owners, key staff and odor consultants from the compost facility have been invited, along with local public health and environmental officials.
City Attorney Peter Karlovics stressed that in addition to an odor status update, a major point in holding the town hall session is to have residents submit personal documentation of odor problems they have experienced so public health and environmental agencies can focus on remediation efforts.
At Thursday night’s City Council meeting, Pannell invited Mike Barrett, an owner of Nu-Earth Organics, 3000 Apple Drive, Waukegan, to explain the cause of the noxious odor problems that have periodically plagued some Park City and southwestern Waukegan neighborhoods this summer.
“We want to be good neighbors and will work on this until the problem is corrected,” Barrett apologetically told aldermen.
He then introduced consultant Carl Kupfer, of IG Consulting, Inc., Wheeling, who has been retained by the company to resolve these issues.
Kupfer said his initial findings traced some of the problem to rotting grass clippings being delivered by landscapers. He said the company would no longer accept them. However, other odors escaping from the compost have yet to be pinned down, Kupfer said.
“We have come up with 15 possible issues that might lead us towards a solution. We are also exploring various odor-neutralizing agents. We will continue to study the problem until we find a solution,” he said.
However, Kupfer’s response was not acceptable to several of the exasperated aldermen. Ald. Tom Crafton, a resident of the Farmington neighborhood, said the stench he has been breathing since July has caused him to suffer pulmonary health problems.
“We need to have relief from this. Why can’t you fix this problem? Our residents should not have to live with this problem indefinitely,” he told Kupfer.
Ald. Larry Eaker agreed, stating that the severity of the odor problem was right back where it started in July.
“Why did you put this compost facility near residential neighborhoods in the first place? This was a very bad choice of locations. Thorough site studies should have been made before establishing your business here. And we are adamantly opposed to your plans for future expansion on this site,” he said.
Owner Barrett responded that compost expansion plans were recently withdrawn.
Pannell called the odor situation “disgusting” and said, “This has got to be resolved quickly.”