Stanislaus County tallow plant expansion draws opposition

Ken Carlson | Modest Bee

The Stanislaus County Planning Commission on Thursday approved environmental work for the tallow plant expansion, but postponed a public hearing on land-use considerations.

Darling Ingredients’ proposal to expand the animal rendering facility on South Carpenter Road by £200,000 per day was reset on October 6th. The county rescheduled Tuesday’s land use hearing.

The Texas-based company has agreed to close its Fresno tallow plant next year after years of complaints about noxious odors, and offload some of its work to its rendering facility on South Carpenter Road in Stanislaus County. I would like to move.

Another tallow plant, Modesto Tallow, closed in 2006, but Darling Ingredients’ facility in South Carpenter is located in a less densely populated area 13 miles south of Modesto.

County staff said the rendering facility hasn’t received many complaints from surrounding property owners.

“The old Modesto tallow piece received such public scrutiny,” said Planning Commissioner Wayne Zipser. “It wasn’t in the right place. This one.”

Zipser, former executive director of the County Agriculture Department, said he supports the project moving forward.

Located on a 74-acre site, the Darling Ingredients plant receives animal carcasses from dairies, livestock producers and abattoirs and transforms the waste into animal feed, organic fertilizer and feedstock for diesel production.

The company is seeking permission to add facilities and increase production from 1.65 million pounds to 1.85 million pounds daily. The expansion could add 10 he to 52 employees. The expanded facility will handle some of the work transferred from the now-shut-down Fresno plant, county staff said.

Lisa Smith, who lives next door to the Carpenter Road factory, is one of many neighbors who oppose the expansion.

She said Thursday that noxious odors near the plants smell like rotting carrion and bad foot odor.

Smith said her mother died suddenly last year from a respiratory illness unrelated to COVID-19. “Children cannot live here,” she said. “It’s too dangerous. There aren’t many residents, but it’s hard to believe that it’s not having a serious impact on the environment.”

Smith, who has lived in the house for a year, said the water, soil and air around the plants should be tested. She also suspects rendering work is polluting the San Joaquin River to the west.

“The impact is real, they don’t listen to us,” Smith said.

About 30 people signed a letter against the expansion, complaining of bad odors, air pollution, polluted water and skin infections allegedly caused by contaminated water from taps.

opposition letter

The letter states that it expresses the collective opinion of neighbors and those who pass by the tallow plant on a regular basis. However, county officials said none of the signers listed an address and they did not appear to be property owners in the area.

Smith explained that some people who signed the letter tried to live near the rendering plant and moved within a month or two.

She said it’s not easy for residents to move away from the rendering plants because of the sharp rise in rents in the area and limited rental housing.

County staff said they could not substantiate the complaint to state regulators. From 2018 to 2021, there were a small number of factory air quality violations recorded by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

In response to complaints in the letter, Darling said the company operates in a highly regulated industry and that plant operations are overseen by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, aviation districts, and counties.

Darling said the factory uses systems to control odors, and wastewater is treated to remove contaminants before it is reused at the facility.

Darling Ingredients, a self-proclaimed global leader in turning food waste into sustainable products, has 250 plants in 17 countries, including an organic fertilizer plant in West Turlock. The 140-year-old company has grown over the decades by acquiring other animal rendering businesses.

This story was first published on September 16, 2022 at 11:52 AM.


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