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“It makes you nauseous:” Formal complaints issued about stinky smell in Darien

Something stinks in Walworth County. For the last few years, residents have issued dozens of formal complaints to the town board about a foul smell wafting through the air in the town and village of Darien. The specific smell, however, depends on which way the wind is blowing.

Residents, like Josh Wicyk, who live in the village say, when the wind is coming from the south, it smells like rotten milk. When the wind blows from the north, “It smells like a porta potty.”

The putrid problem traces back to 2014, when the food manufacturing facility, Birds Eye, changed a product line. Wicyk attributes the “sour milk” smell to this facility. But that’s not the only source of the stink. Residents also blame Walter & Sons, a waste hauling facility off I-43.

"They call it ‘Dirty-Ann’ because of the smell,” said Brock Wachtveitl, “It makes you nauseous.”

Wachtveitl lives in the same neighborhood as Wicyk and says some days the smell is so bad, his kids won’t play outside. “Smelling it all day long makes you sick to your stomach.”

Wicyk was so fed up, he started a Facebook Page.

“We live in Wisconsin. We’re in farmland. You go by a field where they’re spreading cow manure and it smells, yes, but it fades. As it dries, it fades. Well, there’s an open tank over here and it’s not going away,” said Wicyk. “He needs to change his process so that it’s contained.”

Wicyk and Wachtveitl are not alone in objecting the odor.

Darien Town Chair, Cecil Logterman says its complaints from residents that will lead to a resolution.

“We want to hear from residents if there’s a problem. Then we want to go forward and try to correct that.”

Logterman says the town board is taking the stench seriously. He appointed two board members to the “stink patrol” to investigate the complaints, many of which blame Walter & Sons.

“There’s a new cover he’s going to be using,” said Logterman. “He’s done a great job, I think, the way he’s handled everything. This year could be a very good year where there won’t be an odor problem.”

Logterman says Birds Eye is taking proactive steps, too, including by attending town meetings.

Birds Eye issued this response in regards to the smell: “We are working to mitigate the odor from our lagoon. We will continue to make improvements over the coming weeks."

Walter & Sons did not return our request for comment.

So far, there have been no complaints from residents in 2017.


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