Just when I thought I was out…
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Tuesday ordered a Sriracha hot sauce plant in Irwindale be partially shut down in response to odor complaints from nearby residents.
Judge Robert H. O’Brien ruled in favor of the city and ordered sauce maker Huy Fong Foods to cease any kind of operations that could be causing the odors and make immediate changes that would help mitigate them.
The injunction does not stop the company operating or using the property entirely, or specify the types of actions that are required.
Interesting statement, since the County Air and Water Board inspected the facility a while ago and gave it exactly zero citations.
It is unclear what the ruling means for next year’s supply of Sriracha hot sauce. The factory harvests and grinds chilis for three months out of the year, and the grinding of this year’s chilis has been completed.
But the mixing and the bottling of the sauce occurs on an ongoing basis. Galante said he did not know if the injunction applies to those aspects of production.
Okay. So, here’s where it gets weird:
O’Brien acknowledged in his ruling that there was a “lack of credible evidence” linking the stated health problems to the odor, but said that the odor appears to be “extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance.”
He also wrote that the odor could be “reasonably inferred to be emanating from the facility,” and determined that the city is “likely to prevail” in declaring the odor a public nuisance, according to the ruling.
So…no credible evidence, but let’s shut it down anyway because…even though we can’t prove it’s coming from the factory, we all know it’s coming from the factory???
And it gets weirder still.
Remember when I first speculated that this was a shakedown? That maybe, just maybe the city of Irwindale wanted out of whatever deal they had with Huy Fong Foods, and was using this as an excuse?
Howzabout the City Attorney all but confirming that theory:
The city’s goal is not to stop the production of the sauce, [City Atty. Fred] Galante said.
“We’re going to try to keep having a conversation with Huy Fong and working out some collaborative way to test and make sure the odor problems are addressed,” he said.
The case could still go to trial, but Galante said that the city hopes the matter can be resolved out of court.
It’s that line from Storm of the Century. Give me what I want, then I’ll go away.