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A stinky situation: Snohomish County residents struggling with alleged odor

Residents around the Cedar Grove Composting site in Maple Valley complain of a terrible odor coming from its operations. (AP)

The Cedar Grove Composting website proudly proclaims that they recycle 350,000 tons of residential yard and food waste every year. It is the very model of a sustainable, environmentally responsible operation.

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However, residents of Snohomish County say they are paying a very high price for Cedar Grove’s operations: A foul odor that makes it impossible for them to enjoy their properties.

Are their rights being trampled on?

A jury working for the Snohomish County Superior Court said no, at least in the case of a plaintiff from Marysville suing Cedar Grove over odors that residents claim are coming from the Smith Island plant. The jury, according to the Daily Herald, ruled 11-1 against the man, arguing that he didn’t prove his case.

Rob McKenna, former attorney general for Washington state, told Seattle’s Morning News the company has been cited by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency for violations in the past. But the company has also invested in odor-reducing technology.

Nobody questions the fact that there is an odor in the air — just the source. It appears evidence was mixed as to where the odors are coming from. The composting plant is near a topsoil plant. McKenna says residents need to first prove Cedar Grove is the source of the alleged odor.

But is there an objective way to determine if your property has an odor? McKenna says that’s a problem. It’s somewhat subjective and can depend on the day’s weather.

McKenna says residents would have a successful case if they could prove the offending site is responsible for the odors they are experiencing, and have more than one person — preferably several — with similar complaints.

Listen to the entire conversation below.

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