Is South Omaha Odor Toxic?

By: Melina Matthes

An area activist is complaining that the city hasn't taken the right steps to keep South Omaha factories in check. He also says one plant is causing health problems.

"It is vile it's like a cooking animal smell, bones, whatever they do in there," Virgil Patlan says.

Residents in a South Omaha community say the fumes from a pet food plant are toxic. "One of the major concerns we have thru the year is the smell that comes out of that plant and it's so bad that neighbors have to close their windows in the summertime and it's not right," Patlan says.

But not everyone feels the same way. "I mean it just smells like dog food, that's all it smells like, it really don't bother me," Louis Gloria says.

City officials say they've looked into the problem and found nothing wrong. "When you look at the monitoring stats that air quality gets from the health department and the monitors that they have out and about, they're all within normal limits there's no upheaval in regards to the danger to anybody's public health," City Councilman Gary Gernandt says.

But Patlan believes the plant is hiding something, "I want them to review their permit process first of all see if they're safe for the area."

Corporate officials say the Dar Pro plant in South Omaha is no longer a rendering facility meaning they don't process animal by-products; it's simply a blending facility. They mix together pet food and animal feed and they say they don't use any hazardous materials or chemicals, so while it might smell a little bit, it's not hazardous to your health."

"The dog food plant has an odor to it and the wind is in the right direction Burlington neighborhood group gets a whiff of it and when the waste water treatment plant in South Omaha has an eruption Gary Gernandt's house gets a whiff of it," Gernandt says.

"I grew up here and it really doesn't bother me, I used to work right down the street down at the moving company and I've lived up in this house, right up the street, for 17 years and I've gotten used to it," Gloria says.

City officials do want to know if you notice an unusual odor in that area of town. They encourage you to call 402-444-4919 and report it. The phone number is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.