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Rendering Plants in Vernon

Recent Activity

On September 29, South Coast AQMD’s independent Hearing Board required Baker Commodities to stop operations under an Order for Abatement, until it complies with South Coast AQMD’s rendering rule. The decision to allow operations to resume will be made by the agency Hearing Board, or by the Los Angeles Superior Court as part of ongoing litigation.


Comment Letters and Responses

Please also visit our AB 617 Designated Community pages for East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, West Commerce,  South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles for additional information.


BACKGROUND

Rendering facilities process animal by-products collected from butcher shops, meat processing plants and supermarkets into usable materials for the manufacturing of soaps, cosmetics, oils and feed supplements. Examples of facilities that send animal remains include animal shelters and local government agencies. Remains are processed and exported for other uses such as fertilizer.

There are five rendering facilities in the City of Vernon:

  • Baker Commodities Inc. (“Baker”)

  • Coast Packing Co. (“Coast”)

  • Darling Ingredients Inc. (“Darling”)

  • Legacy By-Products LLC (“Legacy,” formerly D&D Disposal Inc. dba West Coast Rendering Co.)

  • Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp ("Smithfield," formerly Clougherty Packing LLC dba Farmer John).

In 2017, South Coast AQMD adopted Rule 415, which requires rendering facilities to implement specific odor mitigating measures such as staging materials in permanent total enclosures, cooking or storing raw materials within four hours of receipt and other actions to reduce odors in the communities located near these facilities. 


PERMIT REQUIREMENTS

Rule 415 also requires rendering facilities to submit permit applications for the installation of permanent total enclosures, including wastewater treatment operations, raw material receiving areas and raw material grinding and cooking operations. Once a Permit to Construct is issued, a facility would normally have 12 months to complete the installation. The necessary permit applications were submitted, and permits were issued. Permits contain conditions that must be met that help ensure compliance with rule requirements.

The four facilities that require enclosures have all taken steps to implement the requirement. Darling has completed installation of the permanent total enclosure, while Smithfield and Legacy are still within the allowed timeframe to install enclosures at their facilities. Baker failed to completely enclose certain portions of its rendering operations and has been subject to enforcement action, as discussed below. Coast is exempt because it does not process enough material to meet throughput thresholds.

Summary of Rule 415 Permit Timeline for Vernon Rendering Plants

Facility (ID #)

Rule 415 Implementation Deadlines

Compliance

Permit to Construct Issuance Date

Due Date to Enclose Wastewater Treatment Operation

Due Date to Enclose Raw Material Receiving Area

Due Date to Enclose Raw Material Grinding/Cooking Operations

Date of Most Recent Full
Compliance Inspection*

Baker (800016) – Two Plants:

3/3/22

  • Main Plant

3/10/20

3/9/22

  • J&M (Backup) Plant

4/23/20

4/22/22

Coast (13126)

N/A – exempt pursuant to Rule 415(l)(3)

2/1/22

Darling (63180)

8/8/19

N/A**

8/7/21**

2/10/22

Legacy (192519)***

11/6/20

7/30/21

10/25/21

9/30/22

2/2/22

Smithfield (187885)

11/25/20

N/A****

11/24/22

2/10/22

*Full compliance inspections (also known as Equipment Lists inspections) are in-person visits to the facility and the evaluation of all process units and control equipment. Compliance staff also conduct partial inspections of particular equipment and site visits during complaint responses, neither of which are reflected in this column.

**Darling does not have wastewater treatment operations. Enclosures and control systems for the raw material receiving, grinding, and cooking areas are currently in place at the facility.

***Legacy is presently under a Stipulated Order for Abatement, and the listed due dates were developed in proceedings before the South Coast AQMD Hearing Board. Enclosures of the facility’s wastewater treatment operations and raw material receiving area have been completed. 

****Smithfield is exempt from enclosing its wastewater treatment operations due to the high dilution rate, as set forth in Rule 415(l)(2)(A).


COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT

There are two different types of notices South Coast AQMD issues to facilities:

  1. Notice to Comply (NC): A written method to indicate a minor violation of an air quality rule or requirement (similar to a fix-it ticket), or a request for records or information from a business used to determine the facility’s compliance status.

  2. Notice of Violation (NOV): Used to inform a business that it is out of compliance with applicable South Coast AQMD rule requirements, permit conditions, or applicable state or federal air pollution regulations and often results in civil penalties for the owner or operator.

Since the adoption of Rule 415, South Coast AQMD staff has continued to conduct on-site inspections at all five rendering facilities in the area to evaluate compliance with rule requirements. Inspectors have also responded to complaints from community members and conducted additional inspections and other field activities as part of their investigations. Brief highlights of the findings from all of these field activities are listed below.

Baker Commodities: Six NCs were issued for the facility to: comply with permit conditions; post Rule 415 signage; repair concrete or asphalt in raw materials receiving area as required by the rule; and address other administrative issues. Six NOVs were issued for failure to process raw materials within the required timeframe specified in Rule 415, with the most recent one issued following an odor event in January 2022. In March and April 2022, additional NOVs were issued to Baker for failing to completely enclose certain portions of its rendering operations and other Rule 415 and permit violations. As a result, an action before the South Coast AQMD Hearing Board was initiated on June 15, 2022 seeking an Order for Abatement to force the facility to comply with all air quality rules and permit conditions. As a result, on September 29, South Coast AQMD’s independent Hearing Board ordered Baker Commodities to stop operations until it complies with Rule 415.

Darling: Eight NCs were issued to post signage under Rule 415, as well as to address other administrative issues. Four NOVs were issued for administrative violations not related to odors or Rule 415.

Legacy (formerly D&D Disposal): Legacy acquired the facility from D&D Disposal and began operating the plant in late 2020. To date, Legacy has not received any NCs or NOVs.

The former operator at the location, D&D Disposal, received a total of four NCs requiring the company to: comply with Rule 415 Best Management Practices; submit permit applications for enclosures in accordance with the rule; and address other administrative issues. The company also received two NOVs for Rule 415-related violations that included failure to repair asphalt in the raw material receiving area and failure to process raw materials within the required timeframe. Four additional NOVs were issued for administrative violations not related to odors or Rule 415.

Smithfield:
NCs were issued under Rule 415 for the facility to: cover stored raw materials; submit a Specific Cause Analysis after a confirmed odor event; and address other administrative issues. Following the odor event – which occurred in January 2020 – an NOV was issued to the company for Public Nuisance, in violation of South Coast AQMD Rule 402 and the California Health & Safety Code. Two additional NOVs were issued for administrative violations not related to odors or Rule 415.

These enforcement actions, which were taken during the period from November 3, 2017 to June 21, 2022, are summarized in the table below.

Facility Name

NOVs Issued

NCS Issued

Rule 402
Public Nuisance

Rule 415

Administrative Rules*

Legacy**

0

0

0

None

Darling Ingredients Inc.

0

0

4

8

Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp.

1

0

2

6

Baker Commodities Inc.

0

8

8

6

*The administrative rules include Rules 461, 1146, 2004, 2012, and 3002.

**A total of 6 NOVs and 4 NCs were issued to the prior operator, D&D Disposal. 

For more information on the details of each notice issued, click on each facility link in the table above to redirect to F.I.N.D., our online facility information detail system.


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