Lowell biodigester hires KY company to solve stench

Lowell Biodigester
A Sept. 6, 2016 photo of the biodigester at the center of a stench dispute in Lowell.


LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — The company behind the biodigester that’s been stinking up Lowell for months says it’s hiring a Kentucky company to fix the problem.

Lowell Energy AD managing member Greg Northrup made the announcement Tuesday night during another heated city meeting. Residents again called for the immediate shutdown of the biodigester as the company defended its decision to fix the problem.

The plant’s dome towers above homes and a church that are just feet from it. Residents said the stench is similar to raw sewage or road kill.

Lowell biodigester meeting
Lowell residents attend a Sept. 6, 2016 meeting about the smelly biodigester.

“The smell is wretched,” said resident Ryan Mitchell.

Some say it’s even deterring people from visiting or moving to the town.

Mitchell said he was hoping his friend visiting last weekend wouldn’t notice the stench, but it was impossible not to.

“He’s like, ‘Did your neighbor put down, you know, manure or some natural fertilizer?’ And I said embarrassingly, I was like, ‘Actually no.’ I said it’s the biodigester, I said it’s been an ongoing problem,” Mitchell recalled.

Northrup said Webster Environmental proposed using a carbon filter for the plant.

“You may or may not know, the digestive technology that we’re trying to employ is pretty common and if they’re built properly, if they’re operated properly they shouldn’t produce odor,” he said.

Northrup hopes to install the filter as quickly as possible to get rid of the odor that has angered the community.

“At the time we thought we were doing what we needed to do to solve the problem. It wasn’t enough. And the continuing complaints are obviously evidence that we need to do more and the buck stops with me,” said Northrup.

Lowell Energy AD has until Sept. 18 to come up with a timeline to fix the problem.

Northrup says tests have not detected any human health issues from the odor.

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