Residents living downwind of the Rancho Las Virgenes Composting Facility got a lesson in bio-solids composting as officials tried to assure them the facility is safe, despite sometimes noxious odors.
The Monday night community meeting, called by the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, was held to try to allay fears generated by claims from a former composting plant employee who said he was made ill by pathogens and airborne bacteria. The employee also claimed the community is at risk.
"We want to give them a higher level of comfort about the compost processing, and the facility at Rancho Las Virgenes," said Arlene Post, public information officer for the district.
District officials asked experts in the agriculture and composting fields to speak at the meeting.
Both experts said the community had nothing to fear from composting plants such as Rancho Las Virgenes.
Environmental scientist Lewis Naylor said he had inspected the plant and found problems with the facility's bio-filter air system that caused strong odors to emanate from the plant.
"But the presence of an odor does not equate to hazard or disease," he told the audience of 50 employees and residents. District officials said the bio-filter would be repaired within the next two months.
The plant has been in operation since September 1994, and residents said they have at times been overwhelmed with the stench wafting down to their homes.