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Lyon Commissioners to rely on state in Silver Springs odor dispute

By Karen Woodmansee

Appeal Staff Writer

Some Silver Springs residents would like to see a study done to find out where a chemical odor is coming from and what is causing it.

Members of the Silver Springs Clean Air Task Force have said they believe the occasional chemical odor is coming from the Nevada Wood Preserving plant on Spruce Avenue, despite denials by company officials.

The group has gotten together with Glenn Miller, a professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Nevada, Reno to propose a study using Miller’s methods of collecting air samples from areas where the smell was significant, taken by the task force members.

The proposal was made at last week’s meeting of the Lyon County Commission, which declined the professor’s offer but did direct county staff to work with the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection to see if they could find a solution to the odor dispute.

But the commissioners and the company were not convinced the samples would not be tainted.

County Planning Director Rob Loveberg told the commission his department and the Lyon County Planning Commission had received many letters of complaints over the smell.

He said the company has been doing business at that location since 1986.

Loveberg said there was no technical information or hard data that shows the company out of compliance in any way with their special-use permit.

Roland Mueller, general manager of production for Pacific Wood Preserving Companies, which owns NWP, denied his company was responsible for the odors.

He said odor nuisances were subjective and complex and it was impractical to find the source of the odors, and added that the company is in compliance with all environmental and safety laws.

“We have members of our staff who smelled offensive odors on Deodar and Elm, but the source of the offensive odors we don’t believe is our plant,” he said. He said many other sources could be responsible, including auto repair shops, a pet food supplement plant or effluent spread on an alfalfa plant.

Mueller said prevailing winds run from west to east, but the area with the most complaints was west of the plant. He also said that in more than two decades the company has used the same wood preservers, yet there has only been odor complaints since last year.

He said the Lyon County Planning Commission has reviewed the company’s special-use permit on five occasions and will again on April 8, and asked the commissioners to order the company be subject to the once-a-year review.

Stephanie Wozniak, of Silver Springs encouraged the board to consider Miller’s help.

“The more you are exposed to chemicals the more you are going to notice it,” she said. “I’m probably the one who has complained most often.

She said she knew the smell could not be from the sewer or a meth lab.

Commissioner LeRoy Goodman said there were too many factors to consider when chasing an odor, like temperature, time of year, wind, what the base is.

“This has been here since 1896, this is a very long process to determine if the odor is coming from Nevada Wood Preserving,” he said. “NDEP doesn’t’ say that this is the sole source of the odor. There’s lots of things going through the community. Let’s proceed, but this is going to be time-consuming, not satisfied in the next 30 days.”

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 881-7351.