96 South Main Street, PO Box 77, Nephi, Utah 84648 - Voice: 435 623-0525 - FAX: 435 623-4735

On our front page this week

  • Rendering plant “blind-sided” by complaint

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

An animal rendering plant owner of the facility located in Juab County was “blind-sided” by complaints entered by a nearby neighbor at a recent county commission meeting.
“We were not aware their were continuing problems’” said Kevin J. Kuhni, president of John Kuhni & Sons Inc., a animal rendering and processing plant.
Kuhni and Rick Turner, represented the plant at a meeting with county commissioners on Monday.
The 70-year-old rendering company relocated to the area near Mills at the far end of the county, just a few miles from Yuba Reservoir.
Kuhni said the plant consists of three sections. The rendering portion of the plant is in the center. It is sealed off from the rest of the areas and, in order for the air-quality controls to function properly, the door from outside into that portion of the plant must be kept closed.
There is a truck stop located on the west end of the shop. Those doors can remain open but there is not an odor associated with the truck garage.
On the east side is the office portion of the business.
“A sniff-tube has been installed in the office section so that we can go to the tube and see what odor might be present in the air which allows a quick response if some odor is detected,” said Turner. “We can detect what is going out and make a simple adjustment and fix the problem quickly.”
Sitting in the office, he said, the office group did not smell the outside air. That was why the tube was installed.
Until Gerald Hall, property owner near the John Kuhni and Sons Inc. animal rendering plant not far from Mills, came into the commission to complain two weeks ago, neither the commission nor the plant managers were aware that their were complaints.
Kuhni said there had been no equipment break-downs to report. He did understand the process. If a piece of equipment breaks down so that there is odor escaping, he was to call Greenhalgh and shut the operation down until the repair was made.
Val Jones, commission chairman, said the commissioners had not received word that there were continuing problems with odor until Hall came into the meeting. “The way I thought it was supposed to work was that the sheriff’s office or Glenn Greenhalgh’s office (county planning director) would receive a complaint and then one of us (commissioners) would drive out to the site to verify the odor,” said Jones.
Deputy Brent Pulver, representing the sheriff’s office, said that only a few complaints had been received until the month of June.
“All were complaints about odor,” said Pulver.
He said the sheriff’s office had received a call on August 24, 2006. They had not had another complaint until May 14, 2007.
“On June 7, there were three calls; On June 2, there were three complaints; on June 8 there were two; on June 12, there were two; and on June 14, there were three,” said Pulver. “All were called into dispatch and all were reported as a strong odor.”
Some, but not all, of the reports were verified by a deputy.
When dispatchers and deputies heard the term, strong odor or bad smell they considered the report to be about an unpleasant odor associated with the smell of dead animals.
“I have smelled that rotten smell before,” said Pulver.
Nevertheless, there will always be an odor in connection with the plant’s operation. It should smell like chlorine.
“You didn’t think it was fair for an officer to go out to the site when an odor was reported without taking one of us,” said Jones. “The gentleman, Mr. Hall, thinks that is unnecessary.”
“We would like to know about any report immediately,” said Kuhni.
Greenhalgh said he had not had any reports since the fall of 2006.
Chad Winn, commissioner, said there had been a report some time ago about animal parts being in a ditch at the plant.
“The state became involved in that violation of water quality,” said Jared Eldridge. On July 21, 2006, the Division of Water Quality, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, gave public notice of an enforcement action.
The state has finally approved an on-site wastewater treatment facility, said Turner. That had been a problem. The first plant proposal had been refused and the new proposal had not been designed.
The plant has been hauling the wastewater from the rendering facility to Provo in large tanker trucks.
“The animals are full of water,” said Turner.
LuWayne Walker, commissioner, asked if their was a timeline for completion of the water treatment facility and was told that the state had so many items that must be covered in order that the timeline was dependent on the completion of the state requirements prior to construction.
Kuhni said the design uses rapid infiltration beds and evaporation.
“Part of the water will be reused on-site. some of it will go to provide water for landscaping.
“Maybe some of the day supervisors leave the doors open,” said Jones. “Perhaps, sometimes, they may like a little breeze.”
However, that could not be allowed in order for the system to work as designed.
“You have proved, the last six months, that you can function without causing complaints,” he said. “It has been quite peaceful.”
Jones said that he also wondered if the plants scrubbing stacks were high enough. In the photos he had seen of the plant a county committee visited in Massachusetts, the stacks were much higher. If these stacks were that high, he said, they would be above the freeway and that might help.
Pulver said there was another problem that needed to be addressed by Kuhni. There had been two recent incidents where sludge had leaked out of the back of a truck. One of those had been on the road leading to Mona and the other had been at a Nephi service station.
The Utah Highway Patrol had been the group who noticed the problems, he said.
Those problems were addressed by John Kuhni & Sons, said Turner.
“We want to be held accountable,” he said.
However, they did not want to be held accountable for frivolous issues. For example, he said, one person’s translation of odor was not another person’s.
Commissioners said they would continue to hold Kuhni to the agreement the county has with the business.
For years, John Kuhni & Sons has fought a battle they didn’t chose. As commercial development grew around all four sides of the 10-acre rendering facility, the businesses began to complain to Provo officials about odors emitting from the plant. State and city officials ultimately decided to spend millions of dollars to relocate the rendering plant, and company officials took them up on the offer.
The company’s new home is on 50 acres in Mills Junction, 50 miles south of Provo. Learning from past experiences, the company will also jointly own an adjacent 15 acres and have placed deed restrictions on adjacent property so if the land owner ever decides to sell, John Kuhni & Sons will have some control over development. The property is bordered on the north and west by land owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
State and Provo governments and local Provo businesses paid 85 percent of the $5.8 million price tag for the new plant.