Rendering plant owner to host public meeting

A Mosgiel rendering plant owner is to host a public meeting before the company is sentenced on two charges related to odour issues.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at the Mosgiel Coronation Hall on April 18. An advertisement says the company will update the community on what it has done to improve odour and give people a chance to voice their concerns and provide feedback.

Complaints were laid in 2017 and 2018 after strong, offensive smells wafted from the plant in Dukes Rd.

The Otago Regional Council subsequently prosecuted the owner of the plant, the Wallace Group, on charges of contravening an abatement notice and discharging contaminants (odorous compounds) into the air.

The company entered guilty pleas to the two charges in the Dunedin District Court on December 9 last year and the proceeding was adjourned for restorative justice.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 11.

People who live near the plant say the smell issues are not as bad as they used to be.

Mosgiel resident Fred Donaldson, who previously told the Otago Daily Times that the smell was "dry-retching material", said the efforts to mitigate the odour had made a big difference.

The smell was now only intermittent.

"When we do get it, it’s not for long periods of time and the smell is not as bad.

"It is totally intermittent. If there is wind coming from a different direction we may get it a little bit worse."

Greg McKay, who lives about a kilometre from the plant, had also noticed a significant change.

He barely noticed any odour coming from the plant and had no issues with it, he said.

It was a stark change from 2018, when he said the smell was "absolutely disgusting" and even made clothes that families were putting on their washing lines smell.

"I’m not just a grumpy old neighbour. I’m more than happy for people to operate in the area as long as they operate under their consent," he said.

Plant operating manager Manfredo Hintze said after the increase in complaints in 2017 and 2018, numerous upgrades and operational improvements had been made.

"I have recently listed 20 improvements since 2017 for a cost of over $200,000, which have contributed positively over the years to the plant emissions control," he said.

The Otago Regional Council was monitoring the plant weekly, which had helped in understanding where "tweaks" were needed, he said.

The plant has been in Dukes Rd since the mid-1980s, and has been owned by the Wallace Group for the past six years.

Mr Hintze said residential development had been growing closer to the plant, which had added pressure when it came to regulatory compliance.

"There are many other plants that perform poorly from an odour management viewpoint, however they have a buffer zone extensive enough to account for the lack of emissions containment," he said

The public meeting has been organised by Wallace Group and is not a formal part of the restorative justice process.

Otago Regional Council manager compliance Tami Sergeant said it was not appropriate for the council to comment.

molly.houseman@odt.co.nz

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