The West Columbia City Council in South Carolina is considering implementing a set of rules aimed at controlling odors that residents complain are coming from House of Raeford Farms’ poultry plant in the city.
The council gave initial approval for a set of rules, which would authorize fines of up to $500 for a violation and up to 30 days in jail if an odor “annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others.” Complaints from at least six residents or from any city public safety official will prompt a check into odors.
An official vote on the rules is expected to take place in November.
Earlier in 2017, the city had denied a variance submitted by the company, which hoped to add a room to the plant because it needed more electricity.
The plant has been in West Columbia for about 60 years, but it has only been owned by House of Raeford since 1998.
According to a report from The State, House of Raeford is the city’s largest employer with about 800 workers, and is the city’s largest source of water utility income. The company also actively donates to local charities and food banks.
House of Raeford Farms, according to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, is the eighth largest broiler company in the United States, having produced 27.35 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken on a weekly basis in 2017. However, the company’s production capacity has been diminished in 2017 after a fire occurred on February 25 at its plant in Teachey, North Carolina. The company is rebuilding the facility, and has temporarily partnered with Sanderson Farms and Mountaire Farms to process chickens raised by House of Raeford growers whose birds normally would have been processed at that plant.
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West Columbia homeowners, as well as walkers and others who use the city’s popular Riverwalk park, could soon have a new tool to battle odors from a chicken processing plant on the Congaree riverfront.