Legislators set out to block rendering plant

Curtis Bay neighbors complained about odors

February 20, 2004|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

The battle over whether a Curtis Bay animal rendering plant can rebuild its cooker has moved to the state legislature, where two senators have introduced a bill designed to prohibit an operation that has long drawn odor complaints.

Sen. George W. Della Jr., a Baltimore Democrat, and Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, an Anne Arundel County Democrat, are pushing legislation that would prevent the Maryland Department of the Environment from issuing a permit for a rendering facility to operate within two miles of a residential area.

Senate Bill 382, which hasn't had a hearing, is tailor-made to stop Virginia-based Valley Proteins from rebuilding its cooker, which was destroyed in a fire two years ago.

Before the fire, the plant rendered animal carcasses, which neighbors said spread a rotten-garbage smell over the Curtis Bay neighborhoods straddling the Baltimore City-Anne Arundel County line. Since the fire, Valley Proteins has been recycling animal grease, a relatively odorless process.

"The bottom line is to stop this facility from reopening as a rendering facility," said Della, who introduced the bill after residents asked for his help. "On hot summer nights, I don't know how the people there stood it. Even riding by in a car, you were sort of overcome by this putrid smell. It came from that facility. There's no question about it."

But the bill has run into problems. Della has learned that it would adversely affect a chicken-rendering facility near Cambridge that he said has not generated complaints. He said he would propose an amendment so the bill would affect only the Valley Proteins operation.

Valley Proteins is planning to fight the legislation. The company has hired lobbyist Carolyn Burridge to help with strategy, and company officials were in Annapolis this week to discuss the bill.

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