Foul fumes from Stella-Jones causing concern for residents

Published 1:46 pm Thursday, November 12, 2015

Foul smelling fumes coming from Stella-Jones in Clanton have some residents upset and hoping for a solution.

“The smell is getting unbearable,” Tommy Truss told members of the Chilton County Commission on Monday. “The fumes are making people sick. If you are laying in your bed at night, it burns your throat and your mouth.”

Stella-Jones Inc. is a producer and marketer of pressure treated wood products.

Stella-Jones Inc. supplies North America’s railroad operators with railway ties and timbers, and the continent’s electrical utilities and telecommunication companies with utility poles.

Stella-Jones also provides residential lumber to retailers and wholesalers for outdoor applications, as well as industrial products for construction and marine applications.

The 400,000-square-feet facility is located on 100 acres at the Chilton Count Industrial Park, north of Clanton.

The Canadian company completed the acquisition of Boatright Railroad Product, with railroad tie treatment facilities in Clanton and Montevallo in May 2014.

Stella-Jones Corporation is a U.S.-based company out of Pittsburgh, Pa., wholly owned by Stella-Jones Inc., based in Montreal, Quebec.

Truss approached members of the Chilton County Commission hoping the commission might contact Stella-Jones to let them know the county is willing to help find a solution to the problem.

“We just would like to know that you are on our side and you will help us,” Truss said. “The company has gotten complaints from other people.”

Truss said the issue has been going on for over a year, and residents have spoken with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

“ADEM told us the company is not breaking the law, but we have been filing complaints with ADEM for over a year,” Truss said. “We are sort of stuck at this point. There are times though that the fumes will get out to about three miles from the plant. It is at night mostly.”

Commissioner Shannon Welch said he spoke with a representative of Stella-Jones after speaking previously with Truss about the problem and the company is hoping to implement a scentless process Nov. 13.

“We were told they were going to implement that last fall and the problem only got worse,” Truss said. “They are now telling us they will put a cherry smell in. ADEM has gone as far as they can go and Stella-Jones is saying they will do something, but they haven’t.”

Commissioner Joseph Parnell suggested commissioners write a letter to Stella-Jones to express their concerns about the fumes.

Commission Chairman Allen Caton suggested having the county attorneys write a letter on behalf of the commissioners, but Parnell thought a letter coming from the commission would be better received.

“Why don’t we table this until the next meeting and give Stella-Jones the benefit of the doubt to see if they are going to implement their new scentless process before we send a letter,” Caton said. “If the problem still exists after Nov. 13, we will write them a letter.”