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American Crystal takes aim now at handling smell later

Although he couldn't make any promises, the odor outlook for American Crystal Sugar this year is brighter, the plant manager told East Grand Forks City Council members Tuesday.

Although he couldn't make any promises, the odor outlook for American Crystal Sugar this year is brighter, the plant manager told East Grand Forks City Council members Tuesday.

"We're pretty optimistic, Lloyd Kennedy said. "We have a lot more tools to help deal with things now."

The company has spent more than $1 million on a cover for a 12.5-acre pond, he said. "It won't prevent odors, but it will help manage them," Kennedy said.

Also, the company has installed other equipment to help with smells that often are present in spring and early summer. Another plus is that the beet slicing should be complete around May 7, a week earlier than last year.

"The longer we run, the more Mother Nature can raise havoc," he said, referring to rainfall and early thaws that complicate treatment.

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Kennedy conceded there was a problem a few days in mid-January, caused by excavating mud. That's historically done at that time because freezing temperatures negate smells, but the temperatures neared 40 degrees during that period this year.

He perhaps had a more sympathetic ear with council members than with the general public.

"We're bound to have some of it in the spring when you do food processing," said Dick Grassel, City Council president. "People have to understand that you can't stop some of it."

Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to rbakken@gfherald.com .

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