Clanton community talking about air quality near wood treatment plant

Local News

CLANTON, Ala. (WIAT) — Neighbors are split on the issue. WIAT spoke with some people who are very worried about what they smell in the air near a wood treatment plant, but we also spoke to neighbors who are more worried about the additional jobs.

Jim Smith lives not far from the plant and can describe the fumes in vivid detail.

“It’s kind of like if you can imagine breathing like copper or some kind of metal that’s, that’s burning or something. It just is thick and kind of will choke you. You don’t want to breathe it,” said Smith. “It does get in your house too. There’s no way to keep it out. We have pretty good insulation, but it gets inside.”

Smith says he has a heart condition and he’s worried.

Smith says the smell blows his way from the Stella-Jones wood treatment plant nearby. According to the company’s website, the plant in Clanton produces railroad cross ties in a process involving creosote.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management lists several complaints about the plant and the odor on its website from 2014-2015.

We didn’t check every complaint, but of the several which we did- there were no complaints or violations listed by state regulators.

In one response an ADEM representative wrote that the company does not manage odors.

Jeff Woods lives right next to the plant. He thinks the smell is no big deal- but he says jobs at the plant are crucial.

“And it don’t never affect me. I don’t never pay it no attention. It’s all these people that want to sit out on the front porch and drink coffee and this and that just want something to complain about because they’re old you know,” said Woods. “I think if they complain, don’t like it, then move away from it.”

Chilton County administrator Connie Powell says residents brought their concerns to the county commission, but says the smell has only become a problem in the last year or so following a recent plant expansion.

The commission is trying to give Stella-Jones a chance to implement some measures to address the problem according to Powell.

WIAT 42 News reached out to a spokesperson for Stella-Jones about the issue, but at press time we had not received a response.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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