A biofuel plant in southwest Dallas is shutting down for at least two months after becoming a nuisance to local residents and reportedly operating without proper zoning.
The facility is owned by Envirotein and renders animal fat into biofuel. However, residents who live near the plant have complained about the scent of dead animals coming from the facility since 2020, as reported by The Dallas Morning News.
Brandy Mendoza said the smell is “just awful.”
“We thought it was the neighbors creating the bad smell until one day, I asked around and everyone was getting the same disgusting odor,” she said, adding that the smell had dissuaded neighbors from hosting barbecues and other outdoor activities.
Residents began complaining to the City of Dallas through its 311 system, but in response reportedly only received notifications saying that their request was received and the City would look into it.
“We no longer knew what to do. I bought a lot of deodorants for the house and put two diffusers above the air to try to keep the smell out,” said Franciso Esparza.
After three years of complaints, the plant is now closing. The facility is located in Dallas City Council District 3, which is represented by Council Member Zarin Gracey.
“I absolutely hate to see the business shut down,” the councilman said, per DMN. “But when they are affecting the quality of life for the neighbors, and you have done it for so long. I want to see these things get corrected.”
Envirotein operational manager Shuhdy Shazaly confirmed on October 16 that the plant will shut down for two months to be cleaned.
On October 29, 2020, the plant received its certificate of occupancy from the City of Dallas to operate in an Industrial Research District, which is designated for factories.
However, the plant apparently should be in an Industrial Manufacturing District under Chapter 51 of the City of Dallas Development Code because it falls under “fat rendering.”
Neighbors said they were never advised of this zoning issue by city officials despite meeting with them multiple times.
The City served at least two code violations to Envirotein, which were then investigated by the Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability, according to DMN.
One investigation report said, “The facility had an illicit discharge of liquids originating from the boiler system onsite at the facility which impacted off site waterways.”
Investigators concluded the discharge was the source of the smells and closed the investigation, but residents said the odor remained.
However, the plant will now be closed for at least two months, which residents are pleased about.
“This is going to be life-changing,” said Nathan Donohoe. “After so long and keeping up with the disgusting smell, we can finally breathe.”
“We can’t believe it, that means we won,” said his wife Rosa Donohoe. “We can’t wait to eat a big carne asada in our backyards, and finally, the kids are going to be able to play soccer.”
However, neighbors and local activists said they still don’t know why the City of Dallas took such a long time to intervene.
This is not the first time that complaints have been registered about the City’s lack of action regarding sanitation in Dallas. As reported by The Dallas Express, a recent city satisfaction survey found that many Dallas residents felt local leadership has done a poor job of keeping the city clean.