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Mayor speaks out about odor study | GUEST OPINION
On July 24, officials from the city of Marysville and Tulalip Tribes joined about 100 residents in attending a community meeting hosted by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA).
The purpose of the meeting, for which the community was given less than a week’s notice, was for agency officials to provide an overview of an odor monitoring study that would use odor-sensing devices to collect real-time data over the next two years. It would start at the end of 2012.
The city of Marysville is open to an independent scientific study, if it can be shown that it will result in enforcement that leads to a solution to the terrible odor that thousands of citizens in Marysville, Tulalip and North Everett have dealt with over the past five years, and remain fully convinced that the Cedar Grove Composting facility on Smith Island is responsible.
This is not that study.
As you will read in remarks made by myself and City Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima at the meeting, and excerpted below, the study being proposed by PSCAA is flawed on many levels, as was the process for choosing a vendor. We are providing this information to keep you informed on this important local issue.
Mayor Nehring’s remarks:
This community has put up with this odor for five years.
We’re tired of the delay tactics, we’re tired of the endless studies, the government games. It’s time for a solution.
For the last two years, we’ve worked in partnership with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, and your representatives have come here and told this community — and we’ve backed you 100 percent — “call us, call us, call us, this is how we’re going to get the enforcement and solve the problem.” We’ve educated our citizens to do just that. This is a solution, we were told. We’ll have to wait a couple years for PSCAA to gather the data. The public was diligent, you were diligent.
You got citations levied against Cedar Grove Composting and its operations, and defended the citations successfully before the Puget Sound Pollution Control Hearings Board, and then you gave it away in a settlement where Cedar Grove gets to pick their own odor monitoring firm that is already a vendor of theirs that they pay $200,000 for odor monitoring. There is no enforcement mechanism. You mentioned you came to the City earlier about the odor monitoring study. We offered you a counter-proposal that included enforcement and solutions. You discarded it in a matter of days and went forward.
It says in your own PSCAA Board of Directors minutes that you went forward against the suggestions of the Marysville and Tulalip communities. Obviously it wasn’t that important to you to find out what our solutions were.
This is the problem with this study. We cannot support a study by a biased third party (Odotech). Odotech is already a vendor being paid by Cedar Grove.
In minutes from the June 14 PSCAA Board meeting, a representative (from Odotech) already insinuated that they think the smell might be coming from the Marysville Wastewater Treatment Plant. (The Marysville, Tulalip and North Everett communities) know the smell we’re talking about. We drive by it on I-5 every day and on SR 529.
It’s a distinct smell that everybody knows, and people are tired. We don’t need another data-gathering study. What we need is a solution and enforcement.
We need somebody to step up and care and stand up for the average citizen, and not bury ourselves in another delaying tactic, and that’s why Marysville is opposed to this, because we don’t have an unbiased firm — we have a very biased one in our opinion, and I’ve cited examples of why. So we’re going to sit here for two more years and collect data that we don’t trust. What’s the solution after that? I don’t see any enforcement in this.
Chief Administrative Officer’s remarks (condensed):
Having participated in some of the discussions for this odor monitoring study, I have to say that with 22 years in public service, this process and your agency’s participation in it, as well as other agencies, has been the most disappointing public process I have ever seen in my years of public service … We sat down with agencies after reviewing the records for the RFP (Request for Proposals) process for this odor contract. The process was so rigged, it was so flawed ... and pre-determined to select Cedar Grove’s vendor that we got a commitment from your staff that you would not go forward with the study because you thought our concerns were valid.
Watch Meeting on Marysville Cable TV
Watch this meeting in its entirety on Marysville government access Channel 21 on Comcast or Channel 25 on the Verizon cable system. Consult the city website at http://marysvillewa.gov for dates and viewing times. You can also view the meeting on the city website.
Mayor Jon Nehring can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-363-8091.