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Irwindale Business Owners Say Sriracha Factory Delivers 'A Pleasant Scent'

LOS ANGELES ( — Two Irwindale business owners have come to the defense of the Sriracha chili sauce factory that the city wants to shut down because of the smell of peppers it produces.

The Irwindale plant is the focus of a lawsuit filed by the city of Irwindale, which claims the odor produced by the plant has caused neighbors to suffer watery eyes, headaches and throat irritation. The lawsuit asked a judge to stop production until the company submits a plan of action to reduce the smell, but a judge Thursday denied the city's request.

A hearing for a preliminary injunction was scheduled for Nov. 22.

Liquor store owner Young Ja Whang and Irwindale Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Bailey say in sworn declarations that the aroma of peppers emanating from the Huy Fong Foods Inc. plant, at 4800 Azusa Canyon Road, are not all that bad. The declarations were submitted on behalf of the company in its opposition to Irwindale's motion for a temporary restraining order against Huy Fong.

"We actually like it," said Whang, owner of Liquor Junior Mart, of the odor. "I am surprised anyone has complained."

Whang's store is across the street from the Huy Fong plant and he says he leaves his doors open 12 hours daily.

"At times, a mild odor from the facility can be detected in the store, but it is a pleasant scent and causes no irritation to the eyes or throat," Whang said.

Bailey said she toured the Huy Fong facility in October at a time time when chili peppers were being crushed.

"We did not wear masks or have any other protective devices and did not experience any adverse reactions, either to our eyes or throat," Bailey said. "On the day we were there, while outside the facility it was difficult to detect a smell and to the extent I did, it was mild and not unpleasant."

In his own declaration, Huy Fong CEO David Tran says the company processes chili peppers during September, October and early November, when they are delivered fresh from growers.

"They must be processed upon arrival or will spoil," Tran said. "Stopping the process now will result in spoilage of peppers in inventory, result in a shortage in the coming months and result in financial losses to the company and the reduction of its work force. More importantly, there will also be significant losses to the growers of the fresh chili peppers, their employees and other individuals involved in this harvest period."

There is a little more than a week left in the current harvesting and processing period, Tran says in his declaration signed Wednesday.

The first comments about the plant's smells reached Tran late last year when he was "advised that a city councilman's son had complained of an odor."

A high-capacity filtration system was installed at the factory "at considerable expense" and that the company "took this action not because it believed there was a problem, but because it wanted to be a good citizen in its new home."

» Judge Denies Irwindale's Request To Halt Sriracha Production Over Alleged Odor
»Sriracha Factory Closure Could Send Prices Up
»Irwindale Sues Makers Of Sriracha Over Smell Generated By Processing Plant

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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