Michigan Sugar Company begins annual pond cleaning project - WNEM TV 5

Michigan Sugar Company begins annual pond cleaning project

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Michigan Sugar Company has begun its annual project to clean the ponds used to store and treat water at the company’s Bay City sugar beet processing factory.

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The company is warning residents the work has the potential to create odors as sediment and organic material are removed from the ponds.

“Cleaning our water storage ponds is an important step as we prepare for our next sugar beet processing campaign set to begin this fall,” said Mark Flegenheimer, President and CEO of Michigan Sugar Company. “We feel it is equally important to inform the community about this work as it has the potential to produce odors.”

Flegenheimer said the company recently installed a $1.5 million, state-of-the-art centrifuge system that significantly reduces the amount and duration of sediment removal.

Rob Clark, director of communications for the company, said if they didn't do the cleaning the consequences would be much worse for the environment than just a bad smell.

"We produce organic waster. That settles out in ponds. And so we have to do this every year to clean those ponds and get them ready for the next campaign," Clark said.

He said he realized many residents take issue with the odor, but said they are working to make the process as fast as possible.

"It should take anywhere from four to eight weeks, possibly longer, It just depends on the day to day circumstances," Clark said.

The smell can be a burden for those living nearby, which is why Michigan Sugar Company wants to make its process more well-known moving forward.

"That is why we want to get the word out, that not only are we cleaning the ponds, but there's a potential for odor and it's all about being a good neighbor," Clark said.

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