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Barrio Logan company says stench issue being fixed

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Erik Anderson
/
KPBS
Neighbors complain about stench coming from Barrio Logan factory on Oct. 5, 2022

A Barrio Logan biofuels company says it is working on the odor issues that neighbors have been complaining about for months.

Residents living near New Leaf Biofuels say the plant generates a stench so strong that it is uncomfortable to be outside.

The company says it now has a permit from the San Diego Air Pollution Control District to install odor reduction systems.

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“We appreciate the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District’s detailed process to determine the right solution,” said New Leaf Biofuel Founder and President Jennifer Case. “We’re happy to have this order in place and will begin work immediately to install the proper systems”

The Newton Avenue company collects used cooking oil from area businesses and distills it into diesel fuel. It has operated there since 2008.

New Leaf Biofuel says they have recycled 30 million gallons of cooking oil, turning it into diesel fuel that emits 80% less carbon than its petroleum-based alternative.

People who live across the street from the plant say the process creates a horrible stench. They say the smell is strong and constant.

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“Terrible,” said Miquel Espinosa, the resident manager of the Barrio Senior Villas Apartments.

Neighbors have complained about the smell since November of last year.

The Environmental Health Coalition’s Nicholas Paul is cautiously optimistic that things will get better.

“The processes that caused the noxious odors should stop until the odor control system is in place,” said Paul. “And it is unfair that the community continues to be exposed to these noxious odors and unhealthy emissions.”

He said the situation was especially bad during a recent heatwave. Nearby residents did not have air conditioning so they had to choose between stifling heat, or a stifling smell.

The Environmental Health Coalition promises to work with the community until the situation is corrected.

“As of today there’s been no change in the odor in Barrio Logan and so we’re going to continue to work with residents until they can breathe air that doesn’t make them sick.”

The company has until December to install the odor control systems.

Corrected: October 17, 2022 at 10:58 AM PDT
A previous version of this story said New Leaf Biofuels had until November to install the odor control systems.
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