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Sriracha odor battle to get reheated at Irwindale council hearing

The Irwindale City Council will hold a public hearing Wednesday night to determine if the smells coming from the Sriracha hot sauce factory constitute a public nuisance.

It's the industrial city's latest attempt to force hot sauce maker Huy Fong Foods to mitigate a spicy smell that residents say burns their eyes and throats. The city is also suing the factory in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that the factory is a public nuisance that operates in breach of a city contract. 

Wednesday's hearing is the continuation of a discussion at a council meeting in February that was marked by protests from Sriracha supporters and appeals from the employees of the factory. At that meeting, the council delayed the vote to give hot sauce maker Huy Fong Foods more time to come up with a smell mitigation plan. Both parties say they are working with the South Coast Air Quality Management District to find a solution.

If the council decides that the factory is a public nuisance, or that the factory has violated some of the regulations that the city has placed on the facility, city officials would have the authority to eventually enter the factory and make the changes themselves.

Experts disagree about how harmful the smell is. The factory is not grinding peppers at the moment -- just mixing, packaging and shipping the sauce -- but residents are still complaining. Air quality officials said that as of March 19, they had received 65 complaints, with at least four more coming in after the February hearing. 

The hearing on Wednesday takes place at 6:30 p.m. at Irwindale City Hall.

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frank.shyong@latimes.com

Twitter: @frankshyong

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