SAN DIEGO — After mounting complaints from the community, the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District issued an abatement order three weeks ago, stipulating New Leaf must have an odor reduction system operating by December 9.
“We continue to smell it,” said Lindsay Wynn, a Barrio Logan resident who is among many neighbors wondering how much longer they’ll have to smell the foul odor coming from the New Leaf Biofuel plant along Newton Avenue.
On Thursday, the district gave a progress report after multiple on-site inspections covering New Leaf’s efforts to get the system in place, along with efforts to minimize odors until that system is installed, including numerous daily cleanings and equipment checks.
“These inspections did not find any violation of conditions in the stipulated abatement order. New Leaf was maintaining accurate records of all required inspections and cleaning procedures,” said Mary Mahoney, a district investigator.
But the bad smell continues as the facility converts used vegetable-based cooking oils from local restaurants into biodiesel fuel. Some residents say the odor has made them physically ill.
“In December 2021, we were made aware by a APCD that the neighbors were complaining about the smell from our cooking oil facility. We did speak directly with a few neighbors and began developing a plan to address the concerns,” said New Leaf CEO Jennifer Case during Thursday’s hearing.
APCD officials say they’re still getting complaints, and over the past three weeks, did more than 70 odor surveys, with most confirming a nuisance odor.
Meanwhile, New Leaf officials say installation of the odor reduction system is in progress.
“If they can put the system in place and it works — amazing. I’ll be super grateful,” Wynn said.