GAFFNEY, SC (WSPA) – In the last few weeks, people in one part of Cherokee County have been dealing with a strong unpleasant smell. It’s especially bad right in the area of a middle school in Gaffney with 590 students and 60 staff members.
Complaints into 7News say in the last few days, the problem has only gotten worse. So we looked into it to find the source and what’s being done to fix the problem.
Students at Granard Middle School say it’s hard enough to focus this late in the year, without the smell they call “nauseating.”
“It’s nasty, I mean it’s awful. I wouldn’t want to sit in that all day,” said Elisha McDaniel, a parent of a Granard middle school student.
She came to pick up her 14-year-old early for the second school day in a row.
“I came early Friday to pick him up because he had texted me and asked me to, and when I walked in the door, it was just like, it hit me, it was like, bam, there’s the smell, and it was awful,” she said.
She said it was worse outside Monday.
Last week the district sought to rule out any issues with the building, hiring a plumber to inspect pipes, but no leak was found.
The Gaffney Board of Public works was also out in that area checking their sewer lines to see if there were any breaks or overflows. They found there was no problem with their system.
Today the school closed the rooftop louvers to prevent outside air-intake.
“It was still at a level today that was annoying at best for the students and teachers, you know it’s hard to concentrate when there are other factors that are taking away from the learning,” said Cherokee County Schools Superintendent, Quincie Moore.
This afternoon The Department of Health and Environment Control confirmed “the source of the odor to be the pretreatment process at Brown’s Packing Company.” The agency says “at this time there are no public health concerns.”
Steven Blanton with Brown Packing says the company takes the smell complaints seriously, and offered 7News some explanation.
“There is no doubt that it’s not a good smell and we’re sorry and we’re trying to do everything we can within our control to make it better for folks. “We’ve put a lot of research and money into making the system the best it can be, and unfortunately it’s an organic process which we’re proud of, but humid weather and changes in the season like we’ve experienced the last two weeks with this rain has absolutely put a strain on the system,” said Blanton.
DHEC is working with Brown packing to ensure the issue is resolved soon. The company has agreed to apply a different odor neutralizer while working on a more permanent solution. Granard Middle has had to decide whether it will postpone state testing, and as of Monday night, Tuesday’s Math Ready Exam will go on as planned. The principal will make the final decision tomorrow morning, based on the air quality at the time.