- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2016

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (AP) - A company is taking steps to eliminate a horrible odor that some residents said has forced them to temporarily leave their South Sioux City neighborhood.

The odor primarily has affected 15 houses in a five-block area where about 40 people live. City Administrator Lance Hedquist said Monday the odor originates at the Big Ox Energy plant about two miles away. The sewage from the homes and the plant meet at a lift station that sends the sewage to the sewer plant, and somehow the plant’s sewage odor has gotten through to the homes.

On Tuesday Big Ox intends to begin adding to its sewage outflow a chemical that should end the problem, Hedquist said. As a backup, he said, the city will soon add more valves to its sewer system that would prevent any sewer gases from reaching homes downstream from the plant.

Denmark, Wisconsin-based Big Ox is a renewable energy firm that converts industrial organic waste into methane gas. A company spokesman didn’t immediately return a call Monday from The Associated Press.

Residents have been complaining to the city for weeks. One of them, Thomas Havelar, said the stench is overwhelming.

“It’s gotten worse and worse,” Havelar told television station KTIV. “Thursday was horrible. …I opened the doors a bit to air out the house. Bad mistake. It was worse outside,” he said.

Another neighborhood resident, Robert Baker, said the odor caused him and his family to evacuate for the weekend.

Several residents said they intend to share their complaints anew at Monday night’s City Council meeting. The city administrator, Hedquist, said they have a right to vent their frustrations, given the awful stench.

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