With chicken plant odor under scrutiny, city launches new ways for public to complain

West Columbia chicken plant smells bad
Published: May. 11, 2018 at 9:45 PM EDT|Updated: May. 14, 2018 at 12:23 PM EDT
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WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - When Tyler Driggers isn't floating down the Congaree River, he enjoys it from West Columbia's Riverwalk Park.

"It's monumental for a city. It really changes, you know, people's attitudes," he said. "You know, after a hard day, they can come down here and walk around. They can experience what Columbia is supposed to be like."

However, as Driggers admitted, there's one reason he sometimes leaves the natural crown jewel early: when a breeze delivers a gag-inducing odor.

"It smells a mixture of raw sewage. If you let your garbage can sit inside your living room for a week with no AC on and stick your head in the middle of it," Driggers said.

He's not the only one to notice the smell of the nearby chicken plant, House of Raeford, which is located on Highway 378 just over the Gervais Street Bridge from Columbia.

"Came and ate multiple times. Didn't smell right. Lost my appetite," said Eric Bey, who strolled down the Riverwalk Friday afternoon.

Councilman Tem Miles has heard the complaints time and time again.

"I get more calls about this issue, particularly in relation to the chicken plant, than I do any other issue," Miles said. "And I think that has been consistent in this city for a decade."

But Miles said the smell – and volume of calls – is worse than ever before so the city is trying something new. West Columbia City Council has passed an ordinance that could fine smelly spots like the chicken plant, but the councilman says documented complaints will be needed, so the city – this week – launched a new odor hotline and a new web page to report stinky smells.

"So 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, residents of the city will be able to go on and make a report," Miles said.

Alison Moons, a homeowner who says she smells the plant sometimes five days a week, said it's a good start.

"Even though it's a step in the right direction, I don't know how it's really going to solve the problem of this odor happening all the time," Moons said.

Driggers is also skeptical.

"I'm tired of talk. We've got enough politicians who can talk. We need some politicians who can act," he said.

House of Raeford wouldn't comment about the city's new tactics but did say it's "continually working on ways to decrease any potential problems with odors."

The City of West Columbia says complaints can either be made by calling 803-794-3506 ext. 805 or by filling out a form online by clicking here.

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