Science will bust Des Moines' foul smells
Starting in August, odor violators will be identified using electronic monitoring systems that measure chemicals in the air and feed real-time data to the city.
Why it matters: The current complaint-driven system is subjective and has left residents to frequently endure "putrid rotting smell" emitted from facilities like animal processing plants, Des Moines officials acknowledged in a meeting last year.
Catch up fast: DSM's current Odor Hotline requires 10 or more complaints within six hours before staffers are prompted to try to identify the cause.
- There have been no mitigation plans — required after three findings in a 90-day period — in at least two decades.
State of play: City staffers spent a few years studying solutions to the problem with the help of a consulting firm.
- The City Council will soon vote on a $100,000 first-year contract with Envirosuite, an international company that uses its eNose system to collect actionable data at industrial operations.
- Ten monitors and a weather station will be placed in public spaces near three businesses — Darling Ingredients, Wiechman Pig Company and a Pine Ridge Farms pork packing plant — that city officials believe are the biggest odor offenders.
What's next: Data will be collected over the next year to possibly set new compliance policies, Chris Johansen, the city's neighborhood services director, said in a memo last week to council members.
Meanwhile, DSM continues to work with the three companies.
- Those businesses may not be in violation of the city's current ordinance, but they've been notified of the problems and are responsive, Johansen wrote in the council memo.
Zoom in: Darling continues to evaluate its odor-control technology, spokesperson Jillian Fleming tells Axios.
- Wiechman added equipment and staff to help monitor and reduce odors, district manager Todd Burgett says.
- Pine Ridge Farms officials did not respond to Axios' request for comment but will install a new device this fall to "drastically reduce" odor emissions, Johansen wrote.
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