ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Clint Muche reads over social media complaints about the onion smell.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
LYNN — If you’ve rolled down your car windows to take in the fresh, spring air while cruising down the Lynnway these past few warm days, you’ve likely been greeted with a strong whiff of onions.
City Councilor Richard Colucci said the smell is coming from Kettle Cuisine Inc., located at 330 Lynnway. The wholesale soup manufacturer cooks all natural soups from scratch for restaurants, food service operators, and grocery stores, according to the company’s website. Founded in 1986, the factory moved to Lynn less than five years ago.
While the odor might be slightly bothersome to passersby in traffic, it has become a real nuisance for neighbors and abutters, said Colucci, who keeps logs of the complaints he receives.
“I get three to four calls a week,” he said. “They shouldn’t have to smell it. In the beginning, it didn’t smell at all. I don’t know if they’re not cleaning the chimney or something. Before, it didn’t stink at all. Then, in the summer a little. Now I’m starting to smell it at my own house on Ocean Street.”
Susan Blum, who is undergoing radiation therapy, called the smell dreadful.
“Radiation treatment makes you nauseous and the smell on top of it is horrible,” said Blum, a Kenwood Terrace resident who kept her windows closed all last spring while she was receiving treatment.
“Last night we were sitting (at home) at 8 p.m. with the windows open and I said to my husband ‘it still stinks,’” she said.
Lori Thompson, a neighbor who lives about two miles from the site, said she believes the smell is getting stronger with time.
“Yesterday was a beautiful day, warm with a nice breeze,” said Thompson. “I opened my windows to let the house air out after the long winter and had to immediately close them. I had to turn on the air conditioning instead of enjoying the fresh air because the onion smell was overwhelming, as it was this morning.”
Colucci is submitting the complaints to Clint Muche, deputy building commissioner in the city’s Inspectional Services Department.
“In essence, one can almost expect that there will be calls whenever the wind is from a southerly or southwesterly direction blowing across the roof to the downtown area,” said Muche. “Unfortunately, that’s the predominant wind direction throughout the spring.”
When the department first began receiving the complaints, the city sanitarian visited and toured the roof confirming a noticeable “soup” smell and asked Kettle Cuisine to alleviate the problem, said Muche.
The manufacturer voluntarily completed a multi-phase cleaning project on the factory’s exhaust system, which he called ineffective.
In September, Kettle Cuisine was served with written notice to take all necessary steps to abate air pollution originating from its property, but acting through Attorney Thomas Demakis, the company appealed the demand, Muche said. The request for a hearing implicated the Department of Environmental Protection because air pollution is subject to state regulation.
Jessica Stasinos, executive assistant to CEO Liam McClennon said a meeting is planned with city councilors and DEP next week. Stasinos declined to comment on any changes that have been made to alleviate the problem. McClennon was not available for comment prior to deadline.
“I think it’s a citywide issue — I don’t think it’s just reserved to the waterfront,” said City Councilor At Large Brian LaPierre. “The odor was permeating throughout the city (Tuesday). With the warmer weather, the smell is just obnoxious.”
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@Itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.