Odor clash breeds legal action

The Appeal-Democrat
Marysville-Yuba City, CA
January 27, 2005
By Rob Young/Appeal-Democrat

Colusa County has filed a civil lawsuit against a mushroom compost producer accused by neighbors of producing foul odors.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday with the help of the California District Attorneys Association, names Colusa Mushroom Inc. and Colusa Industrial Properties Inc., owner of the Colusa Industrial Park on the city's east side where the plant is located.

The suit, filed in Colusa County Superior Court, claims Colusa Mushroom discharges wastewater from a composting operation, producing what neighbors call "foul, putrid, rank and noxious odors."

Colusa Mushroom President Dave Cerini did not return a phone call to the company. Ed Hulbert, general manager of the industrial park, said he will not comment until he sees the lawsuit.
County officials said earlier that the odor problem apparently had been solved.

Jane Crue of the California District Attorneys Association is acting as the county's deputy district attorney under the association's Environmental Circuit Prosecutor Project, which was established to help rural counties enforce environmental laws.

According to the lawsuit, Colusa Mushroom applied to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board in July 2003 for permission to discharge 5,000 gallons of wastewater per day into the industrial park's land disposal system. The board denied the application and later found the wastewater is collecting in a sump where it causes the odors, the lawsuit says.

The suit asks for a permanent restraining order against such "unlawful acts of unfair competition." The company would be fined $2,500 for each act and would be "disgorged" of any profits received from each act.

Cooperating with the plaintiffs is NoMO, short for No More Odor, a neighborhood group that has fought the plant since 2003.

 NoMo attorney Harold Wilsey Jr. dismissed statements that the odor problem is under control.

"That's not even close to being true," he said.

Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young can be reached at 749-4710. You may e-mail him at ryoung@appeal-democrat.com.

home page