Rotting pile of onions has Benton County neighborhood crying for help

Rotting pile of onions has Benton County neighborhood crying for help

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. — A group of neighbors near Harrington Road in unincorporated Benton County are upset about a pile of onions rotting on a nearby plot of land creating a smell, they claim, is unbearable

The neighbors told Action News that because they're in an agricultural area, they're getting mixed answers about what they're suppose to do to get it taken care of.

Kathy Barney lives nearby and said she and her husband are fed up.

“This year it smells like chicken-[crap] has been added to it, it makes you kinda want to dry heave,” she said.

And they're not alone, a number of their neighbors report the nearby pile of onions continues to grow and rot.

“My husband used to live on a farm, and a 30-foot hill of stuff is unbelievable,” said Barney.

Her neighbor Wendy Crosier said she doesn't know where to go from here.

“Because we’ve talked to the Health district, we’ve talked to the clean air agency, we’ve had a neighbor who's talked to the West Richland Mayor,” she said.

Crosier said she's been told there's an open case, but that the farmer was suppose to be finished by last month.

"Instead it's still happening," she said. "And it’s getting worse. His piles are bigger than they were before.”

Benton-Franklin Health District's Jim Coleman said the problem is that they live in an agricultural area.

“Technically this whole process is somewhat allowable," he said. "But the regulations say you won’t create an odor and a nuisance.”

Neighbor Lori Becker said they understand that part.

"[Agriculture] is all part of what this area is," she said it's why they live there. "But we also need to be good neighbors and this is not being neighborly."

That's why when the concerned neighbors contacted Coleman, he said he made sure to talk to the farmer and they came to an agreement.

“Some materials were removed," he said. "It was a substantial amount.”

About 250-thousand pounds, to be exact.

Coleman said the farmer sent him the ticket from the weigh-station to prove it.

The Health District said the farmer has until Feb. 12 to get the rest of the smelly mess tilled under, though the man said he's aiming to be done by Friday.

"I don't think he anticipated this would happen," Becker said. "I'm just giving him the benefit of the doubt, but it's so overwhelming and it needs to stop."

Action News asked Coleman about the pile that Crosier and her neighbors said continues growing.

“I think what the folks on Harrington Road are actually seeing piles of rocks that are being generated as a result of some vineyards going in. And that’s a separate farming operation,” Coleman said.

He said the areas in question are private property, so he hasn't been able to get close enough to confirm it either way.

But so far, he said the farmer seems to be cooperating and he's asking the neighbors to be patient for just a bit longer.

“If you create a giant mess, sometimes it takes a little bit of time to rectify the problem,” he said.

Coleman told Action News the case isn't closed because he still plans to go out there and verify the smell has dissipated once everything is tilled under.

He said he understands why they're upset, but hopes the air clears up once things are buried.

And if they don't, the neighborhood knows who to call.

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