ST. GEORGE – Something smelly this way comes; that is, if you live in the growing Little Valley community of St. George where the age-old maxim, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” is taking on new meaning as residents are subjected to a foul odor during parts of the day – a stench confirmed to emanate from a nearby ice cream plant.
“It smells like dirty garbage cans, like a dump. You really can’t describe it,” Little Valley resident Tony Chambers said Wednesday.
Chambers first noticed the smell Saturday evening while outside playing a game of cornhole, and it has stunk each day since.
“It has not been a pleasant four or five days around the neighborhood,” he said.
The source of the smell, which has also been described as “rank,” “putrid” and “horrendous” by other Little Valley residents has been confirmed to originate from the Dean Foods ice cream plant located in the Fort Pierce Industrial Park nearby.
The stench is related to the plant’s waste water treatment processes, said Reece Smith, Dean Foods corporate communications director.
“We are aware of (the smell) and are working on it,” Smith said. “This is a priority for us.”
Dean Foods was made aware of the issue, in part, through a number of Little Valley residents sending the company emails and messages over Facebook, she said.
“It is seriously the worst smell and has made it so we are currently unable to enjoy spending time outside,” one Little Valley resident wrote on Dean Foods Facebook page Tuesday. “We would love if you would take care of this issue asap so we can again enjoy spending time outside.”
The smell appears to be at its worst in the morning, and while fading out during the day, it comes back in the evening, much to the offense of area residents’ nasal cavities.
“You can’t even go outside,” Chambers said.
“The air in the valley has been very dense (thick) and is holding the odor close to the ground up to a mile from the property, especially early in the morning,” Dean Foods said in a response to Little Valley residents posting their complaints on Facebook. “The smell dissipates as the day heats up, but by then has found its way into neighboring AC units. We have internal and external resources involved in the solution and are trying to remedy it as quickly as possible.”
Among those external resources is a water service crew from the city of St. George, Marc Mortensen, the city’s support services director, said, and added the city is quite aware of the issue.
“We’ve been reassured by Dean Foods they’re doing everything possible to address the situation in a timely manner,” Mortensen said.
Dean Foods representatives will also be meeting with city officials to discuss the situation next week, he said.
Unpleasant odors aside, Mortensen said Dean Foods has been a good corporate partner of the city and employs many residents.
“We want to be good neighbors,” Smith said, and reiterated the company is working on the issue and understands it is an inconvenience for those in the range of the atrocious aroma.
For the time being, Dean Foods has asked for patience as it works to fix the odor issue.
Dean Foods is one of the nation’s largest processors and direct-to-store distributors of fluid milk marketed under more than 50 local and regional dairy brands and private labels. The company also employs approximately 17,000 people in 70 plants spread across the United States.
The Dean Foods ice cream plant in St. George resides at the former location of the Blue Bunny ice cream plant that closed in 2014.
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