ADRIAN — A 100-foot exhaust stack was installed March 16 at Crimson Holdings LLC, an egg-processing plant in Adrian, as one of several steps the company has taken to mitigate ongoing odor complaints stemming from its operations.
Crimson Holdings, which is operated by OvaInnovations of Madison, Wisconsin, in 2021 bought the former Dairy Farmers of America plant along East Maumee Street on the east side of Adrian converted it from making powdered milk to making powdered eggs used in pet food.
The company acknowledged in a letter sent to The Daily Telegram in May 2022 that the process of heating the eggs to turn them into a powder product converts the sulfur in the eggs into hydrogen sulfide, which has the “rotten egg” smell that has been the center of contention. The letter from the company said it was working on correcting the problem.
Over the next several months, citations and monitoring from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy's (EGLE) Air Quality Division and additional monitoring from the city of Adrian were enacted to keep tabs on the odor, which has driven nearby residents and homeowners to voice their displeasure of the smell on a near daily basis.
One of the solutions to remedying the scent coming from the plant has been adjusting the hours when production takes place. A court order made it so Crimson Holdings could only operate between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and that it was not allowed to engage in further daytime operations until a new exhaust stack was installed.
Because of some weather-related power outages in February, Crimson resumed temporary daytime production at the start of March to catch up from disruptions in production. The plant ceased daytime operations March 3 and went back to nighttime operations.
Now that the 100-foot exhaust stack is in place, the company is operating for a window of two weeks during the day with the new stack as part of the court order through Lenawee County District Judge Laura J. Schaedler. That is expected to continue through next week at which time evaluations of the facility will be conducted.
“We are ramping up production to be more of a 24/7 plant. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the stack,” Dan Hofbauer, plant manager, said in an interview with the Telegram.
Crimson Holdings, he said, continues to work on several methods for eliminating the odors, and several mitigation trials will be coming up within the next few weeks in addition to the installation of the exhaust stack.
An initial meeting that took place between plant managers, the city of Adrian, and state officials when the new stack was installed ended up going very well, Hofbauer said. The exhaust stack, which measures 100 feet from ground level, appears to be doing a much better job of dispersing the odor higher into the atmosphere, he said. It is also a narrower stack, which allows for velocity of the exhaust to increase and be released higher into the atmosphere. The stack itself does not do anything to treat the air.
“There is still a slight odor that can be smelled, but it's much better than what it was,” he said.
Some Adrian city officials, meanwhile, said they are skeptical the exhaust stack alone is going to be the remedy needed.
The city received a “massive” number of complaints, Adrian City Administrator Greg Elliott said, when Crimson Holdings transitioned to daytime operations earlier this month.
“Based on that, I would say the nighttime operation scenario has been helpful because we don’t get that many complaints. We get some,” he said.
The Adrian City Commission is regularly updated on happenings at the facility from either Elliott or city attorney John Gillooly, who said there is an administrative consent order EGLE has with Crimson Holdings that contains financial penalties for failures to resolve the problem, but there has been no such action taken to stop Crimson from operating.
“We did receive a lot of complaints through social media, phone calls; the court received complaints,” Gillooly said, due to the recent restart of the daytime operations. “...We are going to be out there monitoring and we have been in touch with the state of Michigan to make sure they are in the area. What we are definitely afraid of is that while maybe with a 100-foot stack the immediate area might be spared some of the odors, that it just might travel a further distance.
“We are hoping there are adequate scrubbers within the stack, that technology is being used and they are required under the initial restraining order to consult with the state of Michigan and to consult with other people who are using similar technology to try to abate the nuisance, so to speak,” Gillooly continued.
Heading into the warmer months is a concern, Mayor Angie Sword Heath said, because the odor might be stronger when the weather is warmer and when people will have windows open to their houses and automobiles.
“We just have to see,” Gillooly responded during the city commission’s first meeting in March. “I’m not extremely confident that this stack is going to solve the problem. I think there is other technology in which they need to make a bigger investment in that similar facilities are using in Michigan that they don’t want to explore right now. But we’ll see and we’ll be stationed around the city with the assistance of the administrator and staff to make sure when they are operating that things are going well and it’s just not transferring the odor problem down several blocks or down a half-mile, things of that nature.”
Residents who continue to have complaints should address those directly to EGLE, an announcement from the city said, as this allows the agency the ability to “escalate their enforcement action.” Reports of odor concerns are also helpful information for Crimson Holdings, Hofbauer said, as such information “ensures that we are affecting change that will eliminate the nuisance.”
To file a complaint, residents can call 800-292-4706 or they can fill out an online form by visiting tinyurl.com/rbzurhwe and completing EGLE’s air quality complaint form. Concerns sent to EGLE will be addressed during business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
People can also address their concerns directly to Crimson Holdings by visiting www.Crimsoncares.com. The website, Hofbauer said, allows resident to complete a complaint form and allows the company to provide updates of its odor mitigation activities.
“We are committed to working with the public to mitigate the odor issue as quickly as possible,” he said.
Crimson Holdings said it believes communication is one of the most important skills needed for success. Since opening its doors, the company said, its goal has been to be a good neighbor to Adrian residents and to have a positive economic impact in the state of Michigan.
“Over the past year, we have listened to feedback from the city of Adrian, our fellow residents and the state of Michigan, and worked diligently to address their concerns,” the company said in a statement. “As a result, we have complied with requests from the state and the city and invested more than $350,000 in new equipment and procedures.
“We recognize that work still needs to be done and will do our best to make sure everyone is heard.”
This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: Egg-processing plant in Adrian operating with 100-foot exhaust stack