Tacoma residents plagued with unpleasant smell after malfunction at rendering plant

It is an awful smell: pungent, powerful and sometimes sickeningly stinky. People all over Tacoma, especially anyone living near the Port of Tacoma, was complaining about it since it appeared mysteriously Saturday.

“Smells like garbage,” said Mary Gaby. “Like a whole bunch of people not emptying their trash.”

“It reminded me of the old Asarco smell when Asarco was here,” said Kris Lemon Schleigh, referencing one of the sources of the city’s infamous, and long gone “Aroma of Tacoma.”

“Just straight up dog food,” said Ryan Rayburn. “Pretty pungent too.”

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By Monday morning, the smell was worse and people took to social media to complain. “What's going on with the funky smell in Tacoma?” one woman posted on Facebook. “Tacoma what's up with the smell?” wrote another.

By that time, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency had received nearly two dozen complaints and had inspectors in the field to find the source of the disturbing odor.

The agency and KIRO 7 tracked the smell to a facility at the Port of Tacoma owned by the Darling Ingredients Company sometimes called the rendering plant by locals.

The facility takes in byproducts from slaughtered livestock or what the company describes as, “edible and inedible bio-nutrients for use in the production of pharmaceuticals, food, pet food, feed fuel, bioenergy, and organic fertilizer."

The issue according to an email statement Darling sent to KIRO 7 was “an operational upset early Saturday morning due to a small leak in the plant's odor abatement system.”

The statement went on to say the problem had been repaired, although the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency said late Monday the plant was shut down and their investigation into what happened was continuing.

Locals just want it fixed so the smell finally goes away. “I hope so,” said Rayburn. “Because I’m tired of smelling it to be honest with you.”

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