Hot Sauce Factory Topic Of Firey Meeting

IRWINDALE, Calif. (AP) -- There could be fiery words Wednesday night as a Southern California city considers whether a hot sauce factory is a public nuisance because of its spicy emissions.

The Irwindale City Council scheduled a public hearing and a vote on whether to declare the Sriracha plant a public nuisance — a declaration that at some point could lead to a shutdown order.

The Los Angeles suburb sued the owner, Huy Fong Foods, Inc., last fall to immediately shut down the factory during its three-month chili-grinding season after residents complained that factory fumes stung their eyes and gave them coughing fits.

The request was refused, but in November, a judge ordered the plant to stop producing the smells until air-quality experts could determine how to mitigate them.

However, city officials said they have continued to receive complaints.

The plant owners are fighting back, and have asked supporters to attend the council meeting.

"The City of Irwindale is trying to shut us down," Executive Operations Officer Donna Lam said in a statement. "We're fighting for our jobs, our livelihoods and the business we built from the bottom up."

The company installed additional air filters and has been working with the South Coast Air Quality Management District to "determine the nature and extent of the problem," but the city appears unwilling to await those results, the company said in a statement.

"People say that that it's not Sriracha that smells in Irwindale; it's the city government," company founder and Chief Executive Officer David Tran said.

City Attorney Fred Galante told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on Tuesday that the city is waiting for the company to submit the specifications about the filtration system.

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