A new way to complain (about the chicken plant stench)


I read this news item in part because the headline cracked me up: “new ways for public to complain.” What — they’re going to start whining at a different pitch? I sort of expected an Onionesque piece that began:

OSLO — A crack team of dedicated public gadflies won the Nobel Prize for Petulance after developing new methods of whining, bitching, moaning and kvetching, techniques guaranteed to drive elected officials to despair…

But instead it began:

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – When Tyler Driggers isn’t floating down the Congaree River, he enjoys it from West Columbia’s Riverwalk Park.

“It’s monumental for a city. It really changes, you know, people’s attitudes,” he said. “You know, after a hard day, they can come down here and walk around. They can experience what Columbia is supposed to be like.”

However, as Driggers admitted, there’s one reason he sometimes leaves the natural crown jewel early: when a breeze delivers a gag-inducing odor….

I was momentarily distracted by the fact that that guy got a whole sentence out, right at the end, without saying “you know.” Then, I focused on the story, which of course was about the smelly chicken plant along the river, near the Gervais Street Bridge.

As Councilman Tem Miles notes, the smell of the chicken plant has gotten worse in recent months. I’m not sure why, but it’s truly wretched.

As for the “new ways of complaining” West Columbia has “launched a new odor hotline and a new web page to report stinky smells.”

The number is 803-794-3506, ext. 805.

The website is here. It’s a bit vague what you’re supposed to do once you get there — it’s almost like the town doesn’t really want you to complain —  so you might want to try the phone number.

And whine away…

30 thoughts on “A new way to complain (about the chicken plant stench)

  1. Claus2

    Who was there first… the plant or the homeowners?

    No different than people who build next to the airport then complain about the noise.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author


          But it’s not just the people in those condos. The riverfront is now a major draw for recreation. People who live miles away are regularly attracted there, making the riverfront a real economic development asset for the community — and the chicken plant is in the way of that.

          The thing is… for a couple of years there I didn’t notice the smell. But for the last few months, it’s been really putrid. I don’t know what changed, but I wish they’d change back…

          1. Claus2

            So if they force the chicken plant to move, can those who built around the airport make them move further out of town as well?

          2. Claus2

            It’s such a lovely part of West Columbia, drive up from the chicken plant and it’s run down strip malls and businesses working out of buildings that haven’t been updated since 1974.

            What do the mayors of Columbia and West Columbia think is going to happen… are we going to be the next San Antonio? Once the Innovista starts going watch out!!! How’s that project going these days?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              It’s coming along, slowly but surely. Mostly student housing so far, and the streetscaping of Green… It hasn’t completely connected up with the Vista proper, but it’s getting there, and the Vista is booming…

              1. Richard

                The Vista is booming? Do you think Gillians will ever sell? It’s only been closed now for what… 4-5 years?

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I vaguely remember the name of Gillian’s, but I have NO knowledge of Old Chicago. Are we talking about those places that are set way back from the street, where that duelling-piano bar once was? I think it was called “Crocodile Rock” or something.

                    I only know about that place because I was forced to go there with a work group once. We had an HR director at the paper who was always arranging for senior staff to go do “fun” things together as a bonding mechanism. The piano players took requests, so I asked for some Elvis Costello. The guy sort of surprised me by playing a pretty nice rendition of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that technically, that’s a Nick Lowe song. Although it should be an Elvis song. It’s more Elvis than a lot of his own songs. And it’s a great one…

                1. Doug Ross

                  It’s Jillians. A restaurant/bar with pool tables and an outdoor volleyball court. Been closed for quite awhile.

                  There are plenty of decent restaurants in the Vista now but parking is always a challenge and I end up paying $7 to park most of the time versus driving around.

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              “It’s such a lovely part of West Columbia…”

              You know, I’ve lived in West Columbia (technically on the outskirts most of the time) for more than 30 years, and I like it. But I’m not sure I’d call any of it “lovely.” There’s nothing like the Horseshoe or the State House grounds on our side of the river, that I’m thinking of…

              1. Richard

                West Columbia has nothing outside of the Avenues. It’s like a cheaper version of Shandon. Other than that it’s West Sumter.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Yes, it is. That’s one way in which my side of the river is way ahead of the Richland side. I recently congratulated Cayce Mayor Elise Partin on getting the damaged lower part of the walk, closed by the flooding, back up and open.

                  And there’s still a lot I haven’t explored. I look forward to walking all of it…

                2. Richard

                  “That’s one way in which my side of the river is way ahead of the Richland side.”

                  A sidewalk???

  2. Karen Pearson

    I find it fascinating that no one was interested in complaints about the smell of the chicken factory until more affluent housing was proposed for the area. Poorer people must not have a good sense of smell. Or could it be that they don’t count, since they can’t fill politicians’ pockets with money?

    1. Barry

      Maybe they don’t complain to the right people or pick up the phone and call someone directly with a reasonable approach and also listen to their response.

      Calling up and yelling doesn’t work.

  3. bud

    I was just by there and the smell really is fowl 🙂 if everyone would become vegetarian this problem would take care of itself.

    1. Norm Ivey

      I only eat vegetarian animals. And seafood. And dead pigs. I eat lots of dead pigs.

    2. Richard

      bud has never smelled a compost heap. Just go to the city landfill if you want to smell what rotting vegetables smell like.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Not practical for me. First, my allergies greatly limit my diet, so I have to eat what I CAN eat. Fortunately, my allergies prevent me from eating a lot of really unhealthy stuff — such as anything from a bakery.

          Second, I have a pretty touchy digestive system even with the stuff I CAN eat. I had my first ulcer when I was in my 20s.

          OTHER people might be able to get all the protein they need from beans, but I cannot.

          Actually, come to think of it, that’s both an allergy thing and a digestive thing. I’m actually a little bit allergic to legumes, and have to be careful not to eat them in high concentrations. It’s not just the “Beans, beans, good for your heart” thing. I’ll get sinus headaches and other allergic symptoms if I eat too many peas and beans. Which is a shame. When I was a kid, I used to love green pea soup, Campbell’s bean and bacon soup, and beans and franks. Can’t handle that kind of stuff now…

          All of this helps persuade me that the paleo diet folks are probably right. Our digestive systems haven’t had time to evolve to where we can handle such high concentrations of things that only came along when we switched from hunting and gathering to farming. Mine hasn’t, anyway.

          I look at my teeth, and I know I’m a carnivore…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            My wife avoids meat, but it’s easier for her. She can eat ANYTHING, and her stomach never gets upset. So she gets protein from legumes and things I’m deathly allergic to such as cottage cheese and eggs…

  4. Scout

    The mayor of West Columbia came and spoke to our homeowner’s association awhile back and he said the Chicken Plant was not moving. I don’t remember the details. I just got the gist that the city had tried all sorts of inducements and they couldn’t be induced and they apparently have solid legal ground to stay where they are if they so choose. They really like the river water. It is integral to their operation and they can’t do things as efficiently anywhere else without it.

    My 4 year old niece once referred it to it as the chicken bush. Took us all awhile to figure out what she was talking about. The main clue was it is stinky. So now that is how it is referred to in my family. 🙂

  5. bud

    An interesting pattern is emerging from these 2 posts. We are living an unsustainable way of life and it’s catching up with us. We eat way too much meat. We use too much global warming energy sources (gasoline). Our houses, cars and yards are too big. We use too much wasteful packaging. Plastic bags are especially heinous. This can’t continue.

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