- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An economically struggling town in Southern California at first embraced the opening of a 650,000-square-foot chili sauce factory within its borders as a job booster and revenue raiser — and then the smell hit.

“It’s like having a plate of chili peppers shoved right in your face,” said Ruby Sanchez, who lives right by the new $40 million plant that processes 100 million pounds of peppers a year, The Associated Press reported. The plant presses the peppers into Sriracha and a couple other sauces, and has a filtering system that’s supposed to quell the smell.

But residents say it isn’t working well enough. So they sued.

City officials say their ultimate goal is to close down Huy Fong Foods, until operators are able to contain the odor within factory walls, AP reported.

“Whenever the wind blows that chili and garlic and whatever else is in it, it’s very, very, very strong,” Ms. Sanchez said. “It makes you cough.” And a neighbor down the road said it gives his children headaches and burns their throats.

The odor only hangs around for three months, during jalapeno pepper harvest time, August through November.

“This is the time, as they are crushing the chilis and mixing them with the other ingredients that the odors really come out,” said City Attorney Frank Galante, in the AP report.

The company said it would cost about $600,000 to install a new filtration system, and they’re trying to come up with different — and cheaper — options. In the meantime, the city’s going forth with its court case, due for hearing on Thursday.

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