Missouri lawmakers target Carthage plant over odors

Friday, April 25, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A spate of odor complaints about a southwest Missouri plant that turns turkey parts into fuel oil has prompted a get-tough bill in the Legislature.

A bill awaiting final Senate approval could force the Renewable Environmental Solutions plant in Carthage to close if it is cited for repeated clean air violations in the future.

The legislation is prompted by the company's track record.

In December 2005, Gov. Matt Blunt ordered the plant to temporarily shut down after the Department of Natural Resources hit it with six odor violations that year. The plant reopened three months later after spending more than $3 million for new odor control equipment.

Under an agreement reached with the state in June 2006, the company paid a $100,000 civil penalty and agreed to pay $25,000 for each violation over the next two years. Since then, the plant has received just one additional violation, in November 2006, resulting in a $25,000 penalty, said Floyd Gilzow, deputy director for policy at the Department of Natural Resources.

The plant uses extreme heat and pressure to turn turkey waste such as bones, feathers and fat leftover from nearby packing plants into oil, gas and other materials.

Senators gave first-round approval to the bill by voice vote earlier this week. It needs a second vote to go to the House. Missouri's legislative session ends May 16.

"I wanted to try to provide some relief to the folks in Carthage," said sponsoring Sen. Gary Nodler, a Republican from nearby Joplin. "I would suppose there would be pretty broad support for this."

Renewable Environmental Solutions faces a lawsuit by local resident, seeking class-action status, alleging that odors from plant are a nuisance and that the company has been negligent.

A company spokesman cited the litigation while saying he had no immediate comment Friday about the Missouri legislation.

The bill is narrowly tailored to affect only a "recycling company that converts animal parts into petroleum." The Carthage plant is the only such company in Missouri.

Under the bill, the plant's state permits would be revoked if it has at least six clean air or water violations within 12 months or at least 12 violations in 36 months.

It also could face enhanced penalties. Instead of the standard $10,000 a day maximum penalty for clean air violations, the plant could face penalties of between $10,000 and $30,000 a day for violations, under the legislation.

Gilzow said the department still gets occasional complaints about smells coming from the plant and continues to monitor the air quality.

The agency did not initiate the legislation, but "this bill provides the department with additional tools to deal the habitual order violators," Gilzow said.

Odor legislation is SB738.

On the Net:

Legislature: http://www.moga.mo.gov

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