Nearly three weeks after fire ravaged a deli meat warehouse the company that owns the rotting meat is apologizing to neighbors about the stench in the air and working with a new firm to control the smell while cleanup at the massive site continues.
Dietz & Watson CEO Louis Eni announced late Thursday that the company had hired BioTriad Environmental, Inc. of Stroudsburg, Pa. to deal with the smell left over from Labor Day blaze at the warehouse off Coopertown Road in Delanco, N.J.
Eni said crews have worked tirelessly over the past week and a half -- hauling more than 300 truckloads weighing up to 20 tons of rotting meat and debris to area landfills -- but he understands it’s not quick enough for neighbors dealing with the smell coming from remains of the nearly five-football field big distribution center.
In the company’s release they refer to their plan to “neutralize the foul odor that has been plaguing the Greater Delanco community as a result of the company’s (fire).”
"…Though that process is moving more quickly than ever, it has become clear that we must provide some relief to the families who live in close proximity to the fire site," Eni said. "That is why we have contracted with odor-control experts to deal with this unpleasant reality that is significantly impacting the quality of life for many people."
Earlier, Enis said, "I want them to know we understand fully what they are going through... Our primary concern is to get the site cleaned up."
BioTriad crews arrived at the site Friday morning with a promise that neighbors would begin to “experience noticeable relief not long after we begin to treat the site,” according to BioTriad owner and field operations manager Warren Planker.
Planker laid out his plan to combat the stench with a cocktail they’ve used at landfills and other sites:
“Our company uses an odor neutralizing blend of natural, biodegradable plant extracts diluted with water to form what we call an odor neutralizing solution.”
The stench has been assaulting folks in nearby towns for days at this point.
“I actually had to cover my face to bring my dog outside. Yes, it was that putrid,” said Kathy Morgan, who lives more than a mile away in Beverly. “It’s horrible, it’s just horrible and they are saying that it’s OK for us to breathe, but I don’t believe it.”
Officials continue to insist the smell, though unpleasant, isn’t toxic.
The magnitude of the blaze and dangers of flare ups caused by solar panels hindered firefighting efforts.
It took firefighters more than 24 hours to get the 11-alarm blaze at the 266,000-square-foot distribution center under control in part because of the hazards caused by solar panels installed on the gutted structure. In the coming days firefighters returned to the site multiple times to douse flare ups and hot spots at the site.
“We have about five or six hot spots, a lot of them are underneath the collapsed roof that we can’t get to,” said Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt more than a week after the blaze.
There is no timetable at this point for when the site will be cleared. Dietz & Watson has vowed to rebuild.
Dietz & Watson created a telephone message center and a Twitter handle for residents to receive updated information on the cleanup process. You can call their message center at 215-668-9749. You can also following them at @DelancoCleanup on Twitter.