Decision on Sriracha Plant Tabled

Residents complained the odor emitted by the plant was causing their eyes to sting and giving them headaches

Officials in a Southern California city held off on a decision about whether to force the closure of the Sriracha hot sauce plant that is being blamed for bad odors and heat that burns eyes.

Irwindale officials want to work with the company to fix the odor and are not ready to force them to do it yet.

"I brought my own personal one to show that we want to work with you," said Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda as he pulled out a bottle of the hot sauce in the council chambers.

The City Council voted to table the issue until the next scheduled council meeting. The shelving of the decision came as about a dozen hot sauce supporters rallied outside City Hall.

"They can kill me, but they can't take out my business," said the owner of the plant, David Tran, who founded Huy Fong Foods, Inc., which produces the spicy sauce.

This was another step in an ongoing saga that pits people who live near the factory complaining about stinging eyes, headaches and coughing fits, and the owner.

Supporters, meanwhile, say complaints of the "spicy and offensive odor" stem from only four local households.

They also say the South Coast Air Quality Management District investigated and found no offensive emissions from the plant.

In addition, the Republican Party of Los Angeles County recently passed a resolution of support for the company, supporters said.

Tran said he’s willing to take drastic action and move the plant elsewhere. He was entertaining offers to move the plant to at least 10 other states, including Texas and Louisiana.

Nearly 200 workers stand to lose their jobs or move with the company. Worker Mary Almodovar said she was on pins and needles waiting to find out her fate.

"This is our family income," she said. "For many of us, this is our only income."

Two residents at the council meeting spoke out against the odors.

If the ordinance passes, Tran would have 90 days to fix the odor problem or the city will install technology to track odors coming from the plant.

Tran said he wants city officials to inspect the plant themselves so he can make the necessary adjustments.

"If they don't come, it doesn't matter (if it's) two weeks or two months, I don't do anything," Tran said.

Congressman Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., is fighting to keep the plant in Southern California.

Gordon Tokumatsu and Irene Moore contributed to this report.

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