An animal feed plant in Apex emits odors so foul that the town used to fine it repeatedly. The company paid its penalties and has operated without additional fines since 2012.
But the complaints haven’t stopped. At a meeting last month, council member Scott Lassiter suggested the town attorney look into options for dealing with the plant and other companies’ odor issues in the future.
BioResource International (BRI), which has headquarters in Research Triangle Park and a manufacturing plant in Apex, creates animal feed additives and feather meal, a product of ground poultry feathers used in food and fertilizer.
The enzymes used in the manufacturing process emit a strong smell that isn’t always contained in its warehouse when workers mix the enzymes with food.
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But Giles Shih, the company’s chief executive officer, said they have solved many of their past issues.
“We want to be good citizens of the community,” Shih said in an interview. “We want to be cooperative with them. I feel the proof is in the pudding. We have a process in place and have not received any complaints since 2012.”
Yet in April, when the company sought permission to enlarge operations at its Apex plant on Salem Street north of town, neighbors in the nearby Salem Woods subdivision expressed serious concerns.
“The neighborhood complains that they’ve lost the enjoyment of their yards,” Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford said. “They’ve tried to hold cookouts but have had to move them inside because of the smell.”
After meeting with town officials about expanding, the company withdrew its request in early May to build another silo on its property, said Apex Planning Director Dianne Khin.
“We had told them, basically, they had to keep the odors on site,” she said.
Since BRI was founded in 1999 by a father-son team of scientists with N.C. State University ties, the company has grown into a worldwide operation with distribution in the United States, India, Thailand and Peru, according to the company’s website.
Shih said the company has addressed the odor issue by completing interior maintenance, picking up trash more frequently and taking other measures to reduce the odors.
“We can understand how the residents would be concerned about it because there have been issues going back to when we first took over the space,” said Shih, who lives in Apex.
In 2012, the town issued 10 citations to the company, each for the daily maximum of $100. After paying the $1,000 total penalty, the company hasn’t been cited again by the town. Shih said that shows BRI addressed the problem.
“The last complaint that was formally verified was over two years ago,” he said.
He said there aren’t adverse health effects associated with the manufacturing process, no matter the level of odor.
Town officials and neighbors said the citations have stopped because people stopped calling in complaints. One staff member has been assigned to the case for years, and neighbors said at a recent meeting they felt bad calling him frequently.
“When it’s a 2 or 3 on a scale of 10, we don’t call him,” said Lynne Green, whose family lives in Salem Woods. “It’s only when it’s an 8 or higher, and I can’t even let my son outside to play basketball because it’s so bad.”
The town relies on residents to report problems, Khin said.
“I told them I understand you’re trying to be nice, but you have to call the build the case,” Khin said.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran