Odor has Everett’s attention

EVERETT — The city of Everett is wading into the stench.

City Council President Paul Roberts asked the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to put some of its inspectors to work on some weekends and evenings.

That way, when people report a stench, somebody can track it down.

The agency has tentatively agreed to the idea, but just when they’d get started hasn’t been worked out.

“Thank God,” said Mike Davis, founder of Citizens for a Smell Free Marysville. “You don’t know how important that is.”

People in Marysville and north Everett have reported a nasty stink the past three summers.

Some — not all — of the stench complaints have been traced to Cedar Grove Composting, located on Smith Island.

Cedar Grove officials contend that the stench can be traced to as many as eight other sources, including the Marysville wastewater treatment plant.

“We are taking responsibility for our odors, but we aren’t the sole contributor to this,” said Bryan Cohen, a Cedar Grove spokesman.

No matter what the agency does with its staffing, Cedar Grove plans to continue to work closely with the agency and follows its directives, he said.

Davis described the smell as acrid, putrid and “like a dead body.”

His group held a rally Monday and gave Roberts a tough time about the inspectors working “banker’s hours.”

That’s a problem because many people smell the stench when they’re home on the weekends or evenings. Inspectors can’t cite a company for odor violations unless they can immediately trace a stink to its source.

Roberts, who also serves as chairman of the agency’s board, said he’s heard from folks who are fed up.

“It’s very clear this is disturbing their lives,” he said.

Roberts also said the agency plans to work with the city when it’s time to review any expansion permits for Cedar Grove, which is within Everett’s city limits.

Usually, the city bases its environmental review on land issues, and the Clean Air Agency handles odors and air quality.

If they both work together, it will make odor a top priority for everybody involved.

“It’s not something we routinely do,” said Laurie Halvorson, director of compliance for the agency. “We think it makes good sense and will lead to a more efficient review for everyone.”

Cedar Grove receives yard and food waste from Snohomish and King counties and turns it into compost. The company began taking more compostable food containers from Seattle after that city banned foam containers this month.

The company is finishing up a permit process that will allow it to fill acres of wetland and build access roads.

Cedar Grove doesn’t plan to expand its composting operations at this time, Cohen said.

The company wants to install an anaerobic digester at the Everett facility, which will add an enclosed space for processing material, he said.

Right now, it’s licensed to handle 228,521 tons of waste a year.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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