Sibley Council Holds Hearing On IDP Odor

Sibley CouncilSibley, Iowa — Around 200 people were on hand Monday evening for a Public Hearing by the Sibley City Council in the matter of the Nuisance Abatement of the Iowa Drying and Processing plant in Sibley.

IDP manufactures a high-protein agricultural blood product called plasma that goes into pet foods, according to company officials, and they admit that sometimes the process releases an odor.

IDP’s attorney, Scott Carlson,  told the council that the company’s intention was to work in partnership with the City of Sibley to solve this problem.  He said that one of the problems is that Sibley’s City Code is vague.  He said there is no measurable standard for offensiveness.  He said the City’s case was built on 144 questionnaires from Sibley citizens, and leaves the company without guidance on what to do.  Carlson said the company needs direction from the City on what the standard for offensiveness actually is.

IDP’s CFO, Jim Ready, apologized for the odor problem, and said the company has developed a plan to solve it.  He says the company does care about the problem and is anxious to get it resolved.  Ready says IDP tried deodorizers that IDP had been assured would work, but didn’t.  Ready says that, if wet scrubbers are installed, the air exiting the company’s existing stacks should be free of odor.  Ready told the Council that the odor had been caused by a certain pet food ingredient product that they were producing for a company that had lost it’s previous supplier to a fire.  He says they suspended the processing of that product as soon as their contract would allow.  He says IDP is contracted to do another two-week run of the product the last week of April and first week of May.  Ready told the Council that IDP is actively soliciting new business to replace the one whose product causes the odor.

Ready said the City’s Abatement Notice requirement that IDP engage an independent contractor that the City would choose handcuffed the company from installing the wet scrubber, since the engineer would have to approve of the work to be done, and supervise that work.

Sibley City Attorney Harold Dawson then asked Ready a series of questions about the odor problem, and if it was a nuisance, which brought a back and forth between Dawson and IDP’s lawyer, Carlson.  Ready then said he thought part of the problem is that “we’re getting stuck in the legalese, rather than trying to find a solution” to the problem.

When asked how soon the wet scrubber installation could be started, Ready said it could begin as soon as the City gave it’s permission.  He said that, as far as a timetable, that was dependent upon the engineer and contractor that would perform the work.  Ready said IDP was willing to move as quickly as the engineer and contractor allowed.

City Attorney Dawson asked Ready if IDP would be willing to sell the plant in six months if the problem was not abated, to which Ready replied, “All options are on the table.”

City Attorney Dawson entered four exhibits of evidence to the Council, all four of which were objected to by Carlson.  In addition, four Sibley residents spoke of their experiences with the odors emanating from IDP, and how those odors have affected their quality of life, and the effect they’ve had on Sibley’s business community.

Osceola County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Wollmuth testified about the complaints the department had been receiving, as well as the method of investigation of those complaints.  Wollmuth told the Council that the Sheriff’s Office would conduct an investigation any time three or more complaints were received.  When asked how a determination was made as to whether the odors constituted a nuisance, Wollmuth said, “it came down to where you couldn’t be outside due to the offensive smell.”  He said that, in those cases, deputies issued citations to IDP for violating Sibley’s nuisance ordinance.

The hearing, which began at 5:00 pm at the Sibley Senior Center, came to a close at 6:25 Monday evening.

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