Sriracha fight: Irwindale officials not backing down after ruling
Irwindale officials said they still hope to persuade a judge to shut down a Sriracha hot-sauce factory until complaints of a spicy smell wafting from the factory can be resolved.
“We’re still pursuing this,” Irwindale City Atty. Fred Galante said. “This is just one of the various legal tools available.”
Judge Robert H. O’Brien on Thursday denied the city’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have immediately halted the factory’s operations, calling the request “rather edgy.”
“You probably should have come in earlier,” O’Brien said. “You’re asking for a very radical order on 24-hour notice.”
June Ailin, another attorney representing Irwindale, argued that the smell coming from the factory was causing ongoing harm to some residents living nearby.
“We recognize that not 100% of people are annoyed by this, but it’s annoying to enough people,” Ailin said. “It’s a seasonal issue, but when it’s going on, it’s quite intense.”
John R. Tate, representing Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods, argued that shutting down the factory now would cause severe financial harm and interrupt a delicate production cycle that requires chiles to be harvested, ground and stored within the same day. Just over a week is left in the factory’s harvesting and processing period, according to court documents.
Tate added that shutting down the plant Thursday would prevent inspectors from the South Coast Air Quality Management district from completing an analysis of the air coming from the plant. Testing devices previously installed at the plant will be collecting samples until at least Nov. 5, and they cannot collect accurate data if the plant is not functioning, Tate said.
“If we shut down now, we’ll be in the dark for another nine months,” Tate said.
At a Nov. 22 hearing, a judge will rule on whether to grant the city’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop operations at the factory. If this is denied, the city has also sought a permanent injunction on factory operations, though a hearing date has not been set for this request.
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