Michigan Sugar: No easy solution to foul smell - WNEM TV 5


Michigan Sugar: No easy solution to foul smell

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Jim Easterly the smell coming from the Michigan Sugar plant is so bad it gets inside his home.

"It's a stench," Easterly said. "There were a couple of times I thought she was going to get sick because of it."

Easterly is one of 800 Bay County residents who have complained about the air quality near Michigan Sugar over the past year. Like Easterly, Timothy Wenglikowski is fed up.

"After awhile the drapes smell. The candles, we go through a lot of candles. Just trying to mask the smell a little bit," Wenglikowski said.

Wenglikowski said he's reached out to Michigan Sugar and the state Department of Environmental Quality. He said he believes they aren't doing enough to fix the problem.

He wants TV5 to ask the tough questions.

"It's very depressing," Wenglikowski said.

No one from the company was available to go on camera on Tuesday.

But a spokesman did send TV5 a statement and said that all sugar beet processing facilities give off odor and that there is no easy solution to the problem.

“We are essentially cooking a vegetable – in our case, it’s sugar beets,” said spokesman, Ray Van Driessche.

The statement goes on to say that the company is investing millions of dollars to reduce the odors, in fact a study is being performed right now looking for ways to reduce odors.

“We have invested $150 million to improve Michigan Sugar facilities in recent years, including nearly $5 million to control odors at our Bay City facility since 2009,” Van Driessche said.

Van Driessche also said the company takes pride in adding jobs to the area and vows to do everything they can to be a good neighbor.

The DEQ said they’re taking action.

"The DEQ is working with the attorney general's office and Michigan Sugar to try to eliminate the nuisance odors that they're are creating from their waste water ponds," said DEQ supervisor Chris Hare.

The DEQ has cited Michigan Sugar 10 times in the past year for foul odors.

Now that the attorney general is involved, the DEQ hopes the solution to this problem is found sooner rather than later.

"We don't have authority to specifically tell them how to run their operations. We're depending on them to come back to us and tell us what they're going to do to correct the problem," Hare said.

Wenglikowski and Easterly said it would be nice to be able to go outside and breathe fresh air again.

"They don't care about us. All they're concerned about is the almighty dollar," Wenglikowski said.

Easterly said, "What we want is for Michigan Sugar to clean up their operation."

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