Cedar Grove study seeks a few good noses

MARYSVILLE — Anyone who lives in Marysville, Tulalip or north Everett, is going to be around home for most of the next year and has a good sense of smell is a potential participant in an upcoming odor study.

Complaints about Cedar Grove Composting on Smith Island in north Everett prompted the study by Odotech of Montreal, Canada. Representatives from the company are scheduled to discuss their plans at a public meeting in Marysville on Wednesday night.

The study would be done with a combination of odor monitors and the observations of a group of residents who will volunteer to record their experiences. At least 20 people will be needed. While it could be more, anyone interested will likely have to get in line.

“There are several folks who have asked to be part of that,” said Joanne Todd, a spokeswoman for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, which hired the company to do the study.

The study will cost $375,000, with Cedar Grove Composting and several government agencies footing the bill.

Among the qualifications listed by the company for volunteers are “olfactory skills” and “objectivity.” Odotech staff could not be reached to explain how these will be evaluated. Such details could be topics for discussion at the meeting, Todd said.

Volunteers will be asked to observe, report and record their impressions regarding odor every day for a full calendar year, from next month into October 2013, according to the Clean Air Agency.

Participants must be 18 or older and be able to attend training sessions and meetings. Odotech will try to choose residents whose homes are spread evenly around the Marysville, Tulalip and the north Everett area.

Odors will be measured with four new odor monitors, also called “e-noses,” each about the size of a shoebox and mounted on a pole. Four new monitors are being bought from Odotech in addition to four already purchased from the company by Cedar Grove, which are located on the composting company’s property.

The study is controversial. Officials with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, who hired Odotech to do the work, say it can get to the bottom of a stench that for the past several years has plagued people who live near the river delta. Cedar Grove officials have said other nearby operations, such as the Everett and Marysville sewer plants, could be causing the stink.

Study opponents, who include officials with the city of Marysville and Tulalip Tribes, have said it’s unnecessary. They point out that a stench akin to rotting garbage has been traced several times to Cedar Grove by inspectors for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, and not to any other operation.

They also don’t like the fact a company already doing business with Cedar Grove was chosen for the study. Officials with the Clean Air Agency say the company uses the best technology available.

Cedar Grove Composting is putting up $200,000 toward the study, with fines recently paid by the company for odor violations, totalling $119,000, to be applied toward that amount.

The city of Seattle and King County, which send yard and food waste to Cedar Grove for composting, are putting up $100,000 and $50,000, respectively. The Clean Air Agency is spending $25,000.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

Public hearing

A public open house regarding a planned odor study in the Marysville-Everett area is scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Marysville Boys &Girls Club, 1010 Beach Ave.

For more information go to www.pscleanair.org/odorsnoco.

To apply to participate in the odor study, write to odorproject@pscleanair.org.

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