Investigators tracking sources of odors reported in three Missouri counties

Around the Region

WENTZVILLE, Mo. – There’s a stink in the air, according to St. Charles County residents, as well as people in surrounding Warren and Lincoln counties.

Wentzville Mayor Nick Guccione started hearing about two different odors from dozens of people starting in mid-October. He continues tracking complaints and giving updates on social media.

One odor is described as a “chemical smell” and a second reportedly smells “moldy and musty.”

Guccione and Wentzville Public Works Director Sue Spiegel used their noses to try to find the source.

“It’s hard to pinpoint a smell,” Guccione said. “It’s really hard when you have a large area and you’re hearing complaints about it coming from Moscow Mills, Wright City, Warrenton, Troy. How does it get out that far?”

They also called the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) whose investigators have been using special sensors.

“This is a nasal ranger and this is what we use to measure if there’s a violation or not,” said DNR’s Caroline Kargus.

Kargus has found no violations but she did trace one of the smells to Wentzville’s General Motors plant.

“For sure, there is one source of odor coming from the GM facility,” she said. “It is still undetermined if the mildew smell is coming from a different area.”

In a statement to FOX 2, General Motors said it is cooperating with the investigation.

“The General Motors Wentzville Assembly plant is in full compliance with our current air emission permits. Since being made aware of an intermittent odor concern around our plant, the Wentzville Assembly environmental team has been working closely with the Missouri DNR and the City of Wentzville to identify the potential source of the odor. We have verified that the plant has made no process changes during the past year. We continue to investigate the issue including sending samples from various paint processes to an outside expert for analysis. We will share the results of those tests with the City and DNR. Additionally, we have been mapping the odor complaints, including characterizing the type of odor, to our operations schedule to determine if there is any correlation. These investigations are continuing and we ask for residents to share their concerns by sending an email to: wentzville.environmental@gm.com. To help with our investigation, please include the date and time of the odor concern, where you detected it, and describe the smell: musty, paint, etc.”

General Motors

Meanwhile, the DNR will continue monitoring and tracking while working with GM on a possible solution to the chemical smell.

“It’s coming from their sludge pits; their paint department,” Guccione said. “There is no violation, but it is a concern we are addressing.”

The mayor said he’s talking about an area of the plant where excess paint is collected after robots spray the vehicles.

GM also addressed this area saying it is “…currently contracting with an external environmental firm to deep clean our paint sludge systems and we are expediting the project to complete it by the end of 2020.

“We look forward to continued cooperation with regulatory agencies and open communication within our community.”

The mayor said he hopes that will resolve the complaints adding that it’s tough dealing with unexpected complaints during an already stressful time in this pandemic.

“It’s always something,” he said. “It seems like every day something new but a little frustrating because people are concerned about it.”

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