WILLIAMS (CBS13) — When the breeze is gentle on the days when the temperature goes up; the smell fills the air in Williams.
“It’s an odor. It’s bad,” said Frank Kennedy. He is the Williams City Administrator.
Kennedy says he’s heard from more than 100 people about the stench stinging people’s nostrils.
“They can’t have barbecues, they can’t sleep with the windows open at night. It’s a really bad odor. It smells as if something is decaying and rotting.
The smell is the first thing people question Mayor John Troughton about.
“It’s really stifling. And it’s not pleasant,” said John Troughton Jr.
So what is the obnoxious odor?
“You’re going to have tomato aroma. You’re going to have processed water that’s coming out of the process,” said Niraj Raj with Morning Star Tomato Plant.
The processing plant is a couple miles southeast of town. They expanded by 60 percent in 2015, and the smell kicked back up.
“It was brought to our attention that we were having several complaints, we went right to it,” said Raj, ” we do not want to be a problem for the city of Williams.”
According to documents from the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board, part of the plant’s expansion wasn’t permitted, groundwater was polluted and an odor spread beyond their boundaries. The company was issued a $1.5 million fine.
“We’re actually in litigation with them right now and going through that data to try and figure out what really happened,” Niraj Raj.
Raj says they’ve implemented improvements in the last week.
“Increasing our dissolved oxygen, which is going to ultimately help out with any kind of odors that’s coming off of it,” said Raj.
“The next few days I think we should be really under control.” he continued.
In the meantime, people in Williams are affected.
“[It smells] like dirty water,” said Anthony Duarte.
“I couldn’t go outside because I didn’t like the smell,” he continued.
“They’d like to solve the problem, we’ve like to solve the problem. It just doesn’t seem to be getting done,” said Kennedy.
There will be a public meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the community center. The public is invited to come express their thoughts and concerns. Raj says he plans to attend. The Water Board is also invited.