SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District on Thursday held a virtual meeting, stipulating New Leaf must have an odor reduction system operating by Dec. 9.
“It’s nauseating — it’s about as bad as you can imagine,” said Barrio Logan resident Lindsay Wynn, who joins other neighbors in complaining about the foul odors coming from the New Leaf Biofuel plant nearby.
New Leaf converts used vegetable-based cooking oils from local restaurants into biodiesel fuel, receiving more than 20,000 gallons a day.
“New Leaf cannot cause nuisance odors as determined by the district. New Leaf must take action if the problem persists or a new odor nuisance is later created for whatever reason. The new odor reduction system must be operating at all times with few exceptions,” said Mary Mahoney, an investigator with the district.
New Leaf has operated in Barrio Logan for more than 12 years. And for years, neighbors in the area have complained about the sickening stench.
“I spend most of my days at home, working from home and I have to shut all of my doors, windows — especially on hot days. You feel nauseous, you get headaches — it’s very unpleasant,” Wynn said.
Until the odor reduction system is installed, New Leaf is required to follow certain guidelines, including numerous daily checks on oil tanks, equipment leaks, along with area inspections.
“After the ORS is installed, the public area surrounding the plant must be monitored for odors and the results must be reported to the district at 30-day intervals,” Mahoney said.
New Leaf CEO Jennifer Case says the company has tried to find a solution since the beginning of the year.
“We have been attempting to fix this from the get-go. We really take the matter to heart because our neighbors are very important to us,” Case said.
But some neighbors are not convinced.
“It’s very clear this is a profit-over-people situation and as a company who claims they are green, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is,” Wynn said.
The district board plans to hold a special meeting Nov. 17 to get an update on efforts to reduce the odor.
New Leaf also released the following statement to FOX 5.
“We appreciate the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District’s detailed process to determine the right solution. We’re happy to have this order in place and will begin work immediately to install the proper systems. Doing so aligns with our commitment to being good stewards of the community we’ve called home since our founding.”