Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 8, 2013

Sugar company odor is sour, not sweet


Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — MONITOR TOWNSHIP (AP) — Complaints have been piling up about a bad odor at a company that turns beets to sugar, a stink so strong that some people say it’s been waking them up at night.

Michigan Sugar in Bay County acknowledged there’s been a foul smell while the company performs maintenance on its wastewater system. Sediment must be removed from ponds before the ponds can be refilled. The odor then is expected to fade away.

“Unfortunately, we have to do it,” spokesman Ray Van Driessche told MLive.com.

Sharon LeBlanc of the state Department of Environmental Quality said she’s logged at least 40 complaints since July from people who live within a mile of the processing plant. Some people said they couldn’t sleep.

In an Aug. 27 letter, LeBlanc told Michigan Sugar that the odor violates clean-air rules and an earlier plan to minimize odors apparently isn’t working. The company has 21 days to respond.

“The goal of the DEQ is to work with facilities to correct situations rather than slap on fines,” LeBlanc said.

The odor comes from ponds that hold soil and sugar washed from beets.

“We do a lot of things to reduce and diminish odors, but we still have an impact on the community,” Van Driessche said. “We apologize to the community for the inconvenience.”

He said the company is working on a response to the DEQ’s letter.

“We are looking at our options and wanting to make sure that what we do is well coordinated and developed, and also follows guidelines,” he said.