Mar 25, 2019

West Virginia Residents Complain of Smell from Industrial Zone

In Huntington, W.V., residents of a neighborhood have been complaining of the odor coming from a nearby industrial plant

In Huntington, W.V., residents of a neighborhood have been complaining of the odor coming from a nearby industrial plant
In Huntington, W.V., residents of a neighborhood have been complaining of the odor coming from a nearby industrial plant.

In West Virginia, residents of Huntington's Southside neighborhood said they have smelled a foul odor possibly coming from an area off 8th Avenue zoned as an industrial district.

According to the Herald-Dispatch, members of the South Side Neighborhood Organization began discussing the smell on the group's Facebook page, prompting a response from City Council member Jennifer Wheeler, who represents a portion of the neighborhood and serves on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission.

During a walk of the neighborhood with Mayor Steve Williams, Wheeler said it was worth investigating the source of the odor.

Residents said some days the smell prevents them from sitting on their porches, and they believe the odor is coming from Valicor, an industrial waste treatment plant off 8th Avenue, according to the Herald-Dispatch.

Valicor is an Ohio-based industrial wastewater treatment plant that only accepts nonhazardous waste, according to Bentfeld. The plant recycles used oil and pre-treats industrial wastewater, which does not give off any chemical odors, he said. The plant is highly regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, according to him.

"We take up waters that would otherwise end up in a landfill," Bentfeld said to the Herald-Dispatch. "We essentially service the West Virginia industry with responsible waste disposal, and we are in full compliance with our permit.”

There is a misconception the plant accepts or treats fracking wastewater, Bentfeld said, which it does not. According to the Herald-Dispatch, fracking wastewater requires storage in deep wells in a process that faces strict oversight because of the environmental risks.

According to the Herald-Dispatch, Wheeler said the company is located within an "I-1 General Industrial District," which provides an area for industrial activity that does not harm surrounding land, businesses and homes. Also, City Planner Shae Strait said the Planning and Zoning Commission has the authority to regulate any discharge of odors within the industrial district.

There are several companies in the zoning district that could be the source of the smell, said Ken Bentfeld, senior vice president of operations for Valicor in Huntington. According to the Herald-Dispatch, he said there is also a paint company and a specialty fastener company.

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