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Lawsuit settled over 'The Smell' that plagues West Valley City

Posted at 4:27 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 10:11:47-04

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — A lawsuit filed over a foul odor that has plagued residents here for years has been settled.

"We are going to see a light at the end of this tunnel," West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle told FOX 13 News, confirming the settlement.

Residents have complained for years about "The Smell," as it came to be known, that would drift into neighborhoods on hot and windy days. Some described it like a "soiled diaper," "like death" and others describing it as a "sewer smell."

"Is it something rotten or dead or something? We didn’t know what it is. It was not good," said Karim Udy, a resident who said the stench has forced him indoors.

FOX 13 News first reported on the situation in 2018, when West Valley City launched a "smell something, say something" campaign to collect resident and business complaints as it built a case. Because the company it suspected as being responsible was outside their borders, city officials could not regulate it. Still, they documented hundreds of complaints with some people threatening to move.

"You can smell this practically across the whole geographic expanse of the city," Pyle said.

Two years later, West Valley City sued E.T. Technologies, a solid waste company operating near the Salt Lake County landfill. The city alleged the company was violating environmental laws and had not taken sufficient steps to mitigate the foul stench as a result of its waste processing operations. West Valley City also claimed it harmed quality of life and economic development in one of the state's largest cities. E.T. Technologies countered in court that city officials could not prove the company was responsible and West Valley City was reaching outside its jurisdiction.

Still, court records showed, the company made an initial $75,000 settlement offer that the city rejected. On Wednesday, the city and E.T. Technologies confirmed they had struck an agreement.

Under the terms of the settlement, E.T. Technologies will move within the next five years and pay West Valley City $750,000. The company did not have an immediate comment beyond confirming the settlement.

Residents may still have to deal with "The Smell" for at least another few years until E.T. Technologies moves. Pyle said it is still good news for people and businesses in the community.

"All I care is that this problem that we’ve been dealing with for a long time, a very egregious problem for our residents, is at an end. We appreciate the fact that we are able to get to the settlement," Pyle said.