State Aims To Curtail Offensive Odors At Cortland Plant

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin Crotty today filed a lawsuit that seeks to put an end to persistent odor problems at a soybean processing plant in Cortland County.

The legal action, filed in Cortland County State Supreme Court, seeks a court order to stop operations at Homer Oil Company until it can bring its air emissions into compliance with state environmental law. Homer Oil is located at 4 Center Street in the Village of Homer.

"The poor operations at this company have caused significant odor problems for over a decade," said Attorney General Spitzer. "The state has made repeated efforts to work with the company to resolve this situation. While we recognize the importance of this type of manufacturing activity, it cannot be conducted at the expense of an entire community."

DEC Commissioner Crotty said: "Operations at this facility negatively impacted the quality of life in the surrounding community. The facility must operate in a manner that does not adversely impact the community or the environment. DEC, with the help of the Attorney General's office, will take the appropriate steps to ensure this occurs."

Homer Oil operates a soybean processing plant in a populated area of the village and is just 60 feet from a care center for senior citizens. The facility's processing operations create strong odors as it crushes, cooks and then cools large quantities of soybeans into soy meal feed for livestock and liquid oil.

The DEC received complaints from local residents regarding odors from the facility on 115 days from April 2002 until January 2003. The many complaints described nauseating odors coming from the plant that sometimes woke residents from their sleep and at other times were so intense that local residents were forced to stay in their homes with their windows closed.

The case is being handled in the Attorney General's Office by Assistant Attorney General Jane Cameron and Chief Scientist Peter Skinner and at the DEC by Assistant Regional Attorney Jennifer Powell.