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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

MARRERO, La. -- Tests are now underway to determine if an oil recycling plant in Marrero is the source of a foul smell detected in parts of the West Bank community in recent months.

Marrero-Harvey Fire Chief Don Roberston said the smell is particulary strong when winds are out of the north, blowing emissions in the direction of surrounding neighborhoods.

'We had numerous calls or complaints of rotten egg smell and natural gas,' said Robertson.

Harvey neighbor Oristile Guidry said the responsible party needs to clean up its act.

'You just never know what's involved with odors, you know, where they begin and how harmful to the health it is,' said Guidry.

The recycling plant has operated at the corner of River Road and Barataria Boulevard for the past 25 years. The old Omega facility is now owned by Vertex refining.

Vertex released a statment saying, 'We are aware of recent complaints of odors....we are cooperating with both the ldeq and the terminal operator in trying to identify potential sources.'

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality confirms it conducted an inspection of the plant earlier this year. The results are now under review by the department's enforcement division.

'We hope that the company that owns the new recycling site will be able to do something to control that odor,' said Guidry. 'It will be a perfect opportunity for them to get into the neighborhood and show they're concerned about the neighbors.'

According to the fire chief, so far, no one has gotten sick because emissions coming from the plant. He said it's more of a nuisance because of the strong odor.

'We are not saying that that's the source,' said Robertson. 'DEQ is going to do some testing to find out if they are a source of the odors that we've been having in this area.'

Vertex has applied for a state variance to increase its emissions during an upcoming stack test. LDEQ says it will be present for that test which is expected to take place before Sept. 5, when the plant's test permit expires.

Below is the full Vertex Refining statement:

'We are aware of recent complaints of odors and that based on wind direction, some of these odors may be coming from the West Bank. Our operation is one of many industries located in this area of the West Bank. This facility has been in operation at this location for the past 25 years, and although production has increased over this time, there has been no material change in our operation over this period. As part of our due diligence efforts, we are cooperating with both the LDEQ and the Terminal Operator in trying to identify potential sources. We believe in being a good neighbor and a valued part of the community in which we live and serve. We are making every effort to address this issue and do our part in eliminating nuisance to our neighbors.'

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