The City of Springfield has received numerous complaints regarding noxious odors emanating from the Effingham County Industrial Park. Many of the complainants concluded that the odors are emanating from property owned by DRT America LLC and located at 400 Governor Treutlen Drive. That property has been within the City's municipal boundaries since July 11, 2023.
The City has been diligently working to address this issue. City officials investigated to determine the source of the odors. Since the City's wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) is nearby, the City first took steps to confirm whether its WWTP is responsible for the odors being complained about. The City's investigation has given the City no reason to believe its WWTP is the source of the odors at issue.
Based on wind direction and the location of complaints and other objective information, the City has not identified any potential source of the odors other than DRT.
Springfield City Attorney Ben Perkins contacted DRT's counsel by phone to discuss the matter in November. Mr. Perkins and his team researched the applicable law and obtained the Industrial Park's covenants from the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority. Armed with that information, on Dec. 15, 2023, the City Attorney issued a letter to DRT and its counsel. DRT responded to the City's letter on Dec. 27, 2023. In that letter, DRT stated that it engaged an air quality consultant that will work with an odor laboratory to assess potential odor sources on DRT's property, and to mitigate the impact on the community of any sources that are identified.
On Dec. 4, 2023, Springfield's Mayor Barton Alderman, and its City Manager Matt Morris, attended a site visit at DRT's facility. While there, Mr. Morris noticed that DRT stored effluent from its Plant Operations in an open storage pond and that the open pond may be the source of the foul odors. Mr. Morris asked DRT to investigate that issue. On Jan. 19, 2024, DRT's attorney contacted the City Attorney to inform him that DRT investigated the effluent issue and decided to commence plans to no longer store its effluent in this manner. According to DRT, it expects this change to be implemented in six to eight weeks.
In addition to the foregoing, Springfield's City Manager, the Mayor, and other City officials have been in contact with numerous other officials regarding the matter, including Speaker of the House Jon Burns, State Representative Bill Hitchens, EPA and EPD. The intent of these communications is to notify the appropriate parties of the problem and to inform them of the need for a prompt solution.
Since it is the City's understanding that DRT's current effluent storage method may be the source of some or all of the odor complaints, since DRT is actively working to change the method by which it stores that effluent, and because DRT has engaged experts to determine whether the odor issues are emanating from DRT’s facility, the City finds itself in a wait-and-see situation. The City understands that persons who are frequently in the area desperately desire an immediate solution. The City understands the urgency and is tremendously sympathetic to those who are suffering from the odors. However, the City also understands that DRT is still in the process of investigating and addressing any issues it is causing. If the City concludes that DRT is wrongly denying responsibility or otherwise failing to take this matter seriously, it will not hesitate to pursue all remedies available to the City under the law. In such an event, the City anticipates that its partners in local and state government will assist in its efforts.
Matthew A. Morris,
City Manager, Springfield