By MARCUS FRANKLIN Associated Press Writer The Associated Press
NEW YORK - A sewage processing plant that nearby residents say produces a stench variously described as raw sewage, feces, manure and burning flesh was sued Thursday by the state attorney general.The odors emanating from the privately run New York Organic Fertilizer Co. in the Bronx violate state air pollution laws, according to the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in state Supreme Court. The lawsuit seeks to force the company to stop the smell."The stench has plagued the community, making simple activities like opening windows, walking to school or enjoying a local park not only unpleasant but an actual health risk," Cuomo said in a statement. "NYOFCo's owners have blithely allowed the facility to continue to spew noxious odors into the community."The plant and its parent company, Houston-based Synagro Technologies Inc., on Thursday denied violating pollution laws, describing the plant as a "good neighbor.""The facility has taken, and will continue to take, proactive measures to ensure that it is in compliance with its permits and applicable law and is a good neighbor in the community," they said in a statement released through lawyer Christopher J. McKenzie.For years Hunts Point residents have blamed the odors for their headaches, vomiting, nausea, and asthma attacks."By treating South Bronx as its own private dumping ground," resident Cerita Parker said, "NYOFCo has denied our community the basic satisfaction of enjoying a walk in the park, a Sunday backyard barbecue or even a summer's breeze from an open window."Parker, a member of Mothers on the Move, which filed a nuisance lawsuit in 2008 with the help of the Natural Resources Defense Council, hoped the odor would be eliminated with the "weight of (Cuomo's) office behind our cause."The sewage processor, which opened in 1991, accepts sludge from the city's sewage treatment plants and turns it into fertilizer pellets, which are sold to out-of-state agricultural operations.On Tuesday, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials announced they were trying to tighten controls at the Bronx plant by amending its air pollution permit, said Suzanne Mattei, a DEC regional director.The DEC's proposals include testing additional chemicals coming from the plant's stack and putting tougher standards in place for the plant's pollution control equipment.The public has a month to comment on the proposals.