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Who's responsible for the strong smell in Barrio Logan and when will it go away?

Residents say the odor is making them sick.
Posted at 8:22 PM, Oct 11, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Maria Fernanda Corral puts a bug screen on her door, hoping to prevent a strong smell from coming into her house, but it's not a big help.

"Your throat is filled with chili powder. Then your eyes become watery. The headache," Corral says.

She and several residents at a senior housing complex on Newton Avenue say they have dealt with the odor for years. They say it's coming from this biodiesel plant across the street, New Leaf Biofuel. Many of the seniors we spoke with said they have tried to call the company. They have even written letters and have not received a response. Now they are concerned about their physical and mental health.

"Sometimes I get stomach aches everyday. Sometimes the smell does not go away," explains local resident Gloria Rebolledo.

ABC 10 news has obtained a letter San Diego County sent to the president of the New Leaf Biofuel on September 9th. It says "in response to public complaints regarding odors stemming from the processing of used cooking grease, New Leaf Biofuels has received three Violations by California Health and Safety Code." The letter also claims the company is the source of the odor and has failed to correct it.

"This odor should not be in the neighborhood. This is a biodiesel production plant in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Nobody should be breathing these kinds of fumes," says Nicholas Paúl from the Environmental Health Coalition.

The air advocacy organization has started a petition for the residents in the neighborhood. Paúl says the goal is to collect 100 signatures.

New Leaf Biofuel tells us "we empathize with the concerns local residents have recently expressed and are working with local regulators to address them as quickly as possible."

An abatement hearing with the county and New Leaf Biofuel is scheduled for later this month.