Several Clark County residents are raising a stink over a foul smell lingering over their homes.
About 25 Winchester residents living near the Kentucky Fertilizer plant at 303 Hill Street attended a Tuesday special meeting of the Winchester City Commission to voice their concerns. They say the company is now producing an unbearable odor after a recent expansion, which included the construction of a new smokestack.
“I don’t want to sue you. I don’t want your money. I just would like to be able to live peacefully and not smell it,” said Carol Hisle, who lives on the same street as the plant. Hisle also put together a petition about the odor, which was signed by several residents.
Residents said the odor has given them illnesses from headaches to nausea. Some people said the smell is so bad that they cannot leave their homes for very long, if at all.
Within the last few weeks, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality issued a notice of violation for the company about the odor. Kentucky Fertilizer has 30 days to respond once the notice is issued, which must state how the company is planning to fix the problem or that the problem is already fixed.
Jarrod Bell, who works for the Kentucky Division of Air Quality, said the state has no reason to believe the materials the company is emitting are hazardous, despite the odor. The fertilizer plant, which processes limestone for fertilizer, emits the byproducts of natural gas combustion, which occurs when the company burns natural gas to dry materials.
“At this point, we don’t have reason to suspect that there’s a health issue,” he said. “Now that’s not to say that odors can’t cause distress or illness ... but as far as the long-term health effect or some type of toxic exposure, we don’t have any indication that that’s the case here.”
A few questioned if the materials they were breathing were hazardous and others outright stated they still believed the materials to be hazardous.
“To me, smell doesn’t bother me, what worries me is particulates,” said Winchester resident Paul Hamilton, who lives on Cook Avenue. “What am I breathing?”
Bell said only one complaint is needed to start an investigation and the company had received 10-15 calls. Standard DAQ procedure for investigating odor complaint involves driving around a facility and inspecting it for odors. The DAQ inspectors may use their own noses or a device known as a nasal ranger, which can detect odor.
John Hendricks, a Winchester lawyer who represents the company, said the company is looking at monitoring the wind and weather conditions and possibly raising the height of the smokestack to mitigate the smell. However, the company is still trying to pinpoint the source of the odor.
“We’re going to be a good community partner,” he said.