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“Something stinks” in Idaho Falls – How the meat packing plant is responding

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The people of Idaho Falls agree, "something stinks." The discussion continues in a wave of online questions surrounding the new Intermountain Packing plant.

Specifically, residents of Idaho Falls have asked where the smell surrounding the plant is coming from and if there is anything that can be done about it.

You asked and we listened. Friday, Local News 8 took a look inside the plant to sniff out the problem.

According to plant engineer, Paul Greenwood, the plant can process nearly 500 cattle a day; however, the cattle they process are only kept on the facility for 24 hours. Which means the smell is coming from somewhere besides the animals themselves.

Greenwood told Local News 8 the smell associated with the plant comes from where they process the waste.

"There is a smell that's associated with it," Greenwood said. "It's a little pungent, but it's not super strong. We have the same type of equipment that's in your typical wastewater reclamation facility."

From their treatment facility, waste becomes anything from fertilizer for local farms to scrap sent to landfills in the Magic Valley.

Greenwood said all of that has an unfortunate odor associated with it, but the main problem comes from how long they're forced to store it.

"The county hasn't given us an approval yet to to discharge into the county landfill here," explained Greenwood. "So we saved that up over a couple of weeks. And the things that we would normally take to a landfill, we have to drive out to Magic Valley."

In addition, all the waste water involved with the plant has to be treated before they send it into the city sewer system. Even after cleaning and treating the water with chemicals, there is still a smell involved.

"There's other things that we can do to it," said Greenwood. "But we hesitate doing that just from an application standpoint of we don't know what other problems we would create downstream."

Greenwood told Local News 8 the next step is to find out what chemicals are used in the city system and in the other industries surrounding them. That way they don't create a chemical catastrophe in Idaho Falls' water system.

To the city's credit, Eric Grossarth of the City of Idaho Falls wrote to Local News 8 addressing the smell.

“The City of Idaho Falls is actively addressing concerns about the odor emanating from the meat packing plant on Iona Road..." wrote Grossarth.

"Rigorous studies are underway to effectively address smells that might impact our wastewater system. Additionally we installed filters in manholes downstream of the meat packing plant to help alleviate odors from those sources. Our commitment extends to collaborative efforts with the processing plant, ensuring solutions are implemented to mitigate the odor.”

Greenwood added that they aren't the only industry on the block. He believes the combination of run off and smells could be augmenting the issue.

We will continue to follow this story and investigate what can be done about the unpleasant smell. Local News 8 would like to commend the plant and staff on their transparency amid public scrutiny.

But you don't have to take our word for it. If you are concerned, the Intermountain Packing plant does allow the public to take tours and ask questions.

For more information, click HERE.

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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


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