PHOENIX — People are saying something really stinks near Interstate 17 and Deer Valley Road.
Workers at two RV parks say the smell emanating from a nearby recycling plant could lead their regular winter snowbirds to fly somewhere else.
“It hurts,” Desert’s Edge RV Park Manager Sandra Bryn said. “You breathe and you can feel that there’s something that is almost spicy.”
Bryn claims the stench is coming from 10-foot high piles of mulch at the nearby Green Earth Recycling plant, which moved to its location last year. Bryn worries she may lose winter visitor business because of the smell.
“The composting smell is revolting, and having the particles in the air is a health issue,” wrote one man. “There were times when we could not sit outside. The problem is very, very bad.”
The man also wrote his dog is having medical problems that a veterinarian said may be caused by the particles and smell.
Bryn said this is typically the time of year people are calling to make their winter reservations at the park.
“But this time, they’re calling and saying ‘Is that recycling place gone yet? Because if it’s not, we’re not coming back,’” she said.
Phoenix Metro RV Park employee Karen Johnson echoed Bryn’s concerns.
“We’ve had many guests that have said that if something isn’t done about it, they’ll leave.”
The two women claim other business owners have also complained about the smell. Bryn said that the smell has been reported as far as a few miles away.
Bryn and Johnson both admit that the smell is not there “all of the time.” KTAR did not notice it when we visited Desert’s Edge nor the plant.
The owner of Green Earth Recycling denies his business is emitting any smell. Mike, who doesn’t want his last name used, said the plant makes mulch that is sold to the Scott’s Turf company, which then sells it to Home Depot and other home improvement stores. He said bags of mulch have a slight odor, but if it was as strong as the RV park owners claim, he would lose his contract with Scott’s.
Mike said he moved his company one block last year to a larger lot. His previous location was closer to another RV park and he never received an odor complaint.
“We’ve never, one time ever even, had a warning for air quality,” he said. “Our facility has never had a dust violation, never had an odor violation, never had a chemical-emitted odor. Nothing along those lines has ever happened from our facility.”
If there is any smell in the area, Mike said it likely from a nearby business.
“If you were to go across the street to Waste Management, and stick your head in the dumpster, you would clearly find a difference in the odors,” Mike said.
In a written statement, Waste Management said the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality investigated the area for odors earlier this year and did not find any wrongdoing.
The city of Phoenix has denied Green Earth’s request to stay at its current location for the next three years. The plant is still operating while the decision is appealed.
The next hearing is set for Sept. 3. Bryn said she and several others will be there to voice their opposition.
“I don’t know what we’ll do (if Green Earth wins),” Bryn said. “I really don’t know what we’ll do.”