South Sioux City’s Health Board met on Wednesday, March 29 to discuss
the noxious odor still affecting numerous residents who have been unable
to return home since October of 2016.
Families in nearly 60 houses in a five-block area of Lemasa Drive and Red
Bird Lane by 39th street were forced out of their homes last fall when they noticed those
noxious odors seeping into their homes. The residents are focusing their
blame on Big Ox Energy, which opened a renewable energy plant shortly
before the issue started. Both Big Ox and the city have stated that the
smells are actually connected to plumbing issues in the 60 or so homes.
Mayor Rod Koch noted that only three residents have filed complaints since
the Health Board’s last meeting on March 15th. None of these complaints were related to the odors.
Attorney David Domina, who is representing 13 of the displaced families
in conjunction with Sioux City attorney Brian Buckmeier in pending litigation
stated that the city “will have more [complaints]” shortly.
City attorney Wayne Boyd recommended that any action on the odor item
should be delayed, and the meeting rescheduled in order to give the residents
more time. Domina estimated that a 30-day extension would be sufficient.
“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is getting everyone
back in their homes, get everyone back to where they were — get
everybody home again — and to make sure nothing like this ever happens
again… And to make sure that everyone learns something about sewers
and how they work and how to handle a crisis and to really take care of
our citizens. I think all of us could have done a better job on all accounts,
including myself,” Koch said.
While the city works to resolve these issues, they have been making progress
towards protecting residents from facing issues like this again in the
future. They recently updated a sewage ordinance first put in place in
the 1970s in order to better monitor the pH levels of major industrial
sewage waste, and approved a $1.29 million bid to construct a force main
project to ship industrial waste directly from Big Ox Energy’s plant
to the Sioux City Wastewater Treatment Plant while completely avoiding