Putrid odors from potato wastes that have plagued residents west of Blackfoot for two years are not going to be allowed to continue, a state environmental official says.
Potato wastes from a processing plant operated by the American Potato division of Basic American Foods have been piped onto fields in Moreland since the 1960s.But the smell this year has drawn complaints from dozens of families.
Blaine Drewes of the state Division of Environmental Quality office in Pocatello said bacteria causing the stench are not harmful to humans. But he said he would meet with American Potato officials in the next few days to discuss problems caused by the smell.
"Next year will be too late," Drewes said. "Something must be done to stop the stench now."
Plant officials blame prolonged periods of hot weather, but nearby residents say the smell is worse during the cool of the night.
"The stuff smells so bad it wakes me up in the middle of the night, and it's impossible to go back to sleep," said Debra Hawkes of Moreland. "We live several miles away from where it's being dumped, so it must be unbearable for those who live out on Williams Road."
"I had driven through that area searching for an open sewer before I found out it was potato waste causing the smell," said Inez Baker, Bingham County planning and zoning administrator.
The water used to wash and steam-peel the potatoes at the processing plant runs through a pipeline into Groveland and Moreland areas, where it is used to irrigate pastures owned by American Potato.
But lately, residents have noticed standing pools of the rancid water.
"We've seen more pooling than usual, and when the stuff sits for any period of time it stinks," said American Potato Vice President Keith Hinckley.