A stinky situation

Published 9:00 am Thursday, July 13, 2017

After issuing an odor violation against Kentucky Fertilizer, inspectors for the Kentucky Division for Air Quality say the company has 30 days to submit a plan to remedy the situation.

Residents living around the Hill Street plant again filled the commission chambers at Winchester City Hall Tuesday to voice their concerns about dust and odors from the plant.

Earlier this year, the plant added new equipment and a dryer to produce pelletized lime, according to company officials. Since then, residents have been complaining to city and state officials about foul smells from the plant.

Email newsletter signup

Jarrod Bell, environmental control manager with the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, said the violation was noted during a June 15 inspection at the facility and surrounding area. Five previous inspections noted no violations.  

“At this point, what the division does is put the company on notice,” Bell said during a special Winchester Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday. The company will have 30 days to develop a plan to remedy the situation, which must be approved by the state, he said.

“We settle and resolve and correct problems, probably 99 percent of the time, administratively,” Bell said. “We work with the companies as best we can.”

John Hendricks, an attorney representing Kentucky Fertilizer, said the process involves ground lime, tree sap and water to make pelletized fertilizer. The company had been inspected six times since April 13, and had no prior violations. The company is exploring options, including whether there is additional equipment which could fix the situation, or raising the stack on the dryer higher.

The company is also working to identify the source of the smells.

“We’re still trying to pinpoint what happened that day,” Kentucky Fertilizer project manager John Uliveto said. “When we narrow it down, we will take corrective action.

“We just have to do some more investigation. We feel we can control it. What we’re looking at is an odor issue, not a health issue.”

Some neighbors of the plant believe there is a health issue, whether from the smell or the lime dust.

Anthony Hisle, who lives on Hill Street, said he has lived in the area for 45 years and said there has always been a dust problem. 

“I have nausea,” he said. “I have headaches. It’s nothing but the fertilizer plant. I can’t go out. I can’t do nothing. You can’t tell me this is good to breathe.”

Paul Hamilton, who lives on Cook Avenue, said the smell wasn’t his issue, but particulates in the air from the plant.

“What am I breathing? Where does it come from?” he said.

Uliveto said there are machines and processes in place to capture 99 percent of the particulates, which are nothing but lime dust. 

“There is nothing dangerous in our process,” he said. “We’re going above what the EPA is asking us to do. We are very concerned with the community and we are doing our best.”

“We’re going to be a good community partner,” Hendricks said.


About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

email author More by Fred