Kettle Cuisine faces more complaints about the onion smell from its factory on the Lynnway. (courtesy )
Local Government and Politics, News

Lynn, state officials meet to discuss Kettle Cuisine’s continued onion odor

LYNN — Despite spending nearly $1 million to end Kettle Cuisine's cooked onion and garlic stench on the Lynnway, complaints continue to flood City Hall. 

The numerous calls about the soup maker prompted a meeting among the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Kettle Cuisine and city officials on Thursday. It was closed to the public and reporters were barred. 

City officials said MassDEP ordered details of the meeting be held confidential. No one from City Hall would reveal what remedies were discussed other than to say "it's an ongoing process," said James Lamanna, assistant city solicitor. 

Among the options the state has is to close the factory until the smell is fixed, or require installation of so-called Scrubber systems, an air pollution control device that removes particulates and gases from industrial exhausts. The systems can cost more than $1 million.

Ward 4 Councilor Richard Colucci, Lynn Public Health Director Michele Desmarais and Lamanna were invited to the session. 

"I received complaints a couple of days ago," said Colucci, who lives near the factory. "(Kettle Cuisine is) trying. They're going to do hardware so we'll see. (It would be) to alleviate the odor, in addition to the chimneys, so hopefully, that will work out and then, if not, round two."

Construction is underway on $200,000 worth of ventilation hardware. Last summer, the company spent $700,000 to install a pair of stainless steel chimneys, which were designed to eliminate the odors.

In 2016, following complaints about the cooked onion and garlic smell, the city's Inspectional Services Department issued a citation that said the odors emanating from Kettle Cuisine constituted a "public nuisance and unreasonably interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life," according to documents from MassDEP.

Later that year, Kettle Cuisine appealed the violation. MassDEP, the city, and the company entered into a consent order to deal with the health violations. Following a meeting between the three parties, Kettle Cuisine agreed to the two-stack solution. The chimneys installed last summer are fully operational. 

But the smell persists along the Lynnway, in West Lynn, Pine Hill and City Hall Square, said Colucci.

"It's just unpleasant to smell all the time," he said. "It lingers."  

Joseph Ferson, a DEP spokesman, declined to comment on the outcome of Thursday's session. He would only say the parties met to discuss the status of the enforcement order. 

Kettle Cuisine's CEO Liam McClennon did not return calls seeking comment.

Last year, he told The Item the company was convinced there would be no detectable odor coming from the manufacturing plant following the installation of the chimneys. 

The company moved to Lynn in 2014 after it outgrew its Chelsea plant. The privately-held firm invested $25 million in the two-story, 220,000-square-foot facility on the Lynnway. Kettle Cuisine handcrafts small batch soups from scratch for restaurants, food service operators and grocery stores.  

Today, it is among the largest employers in the city with 540 workers.

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