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Officials woo hot sauce maker for Mineral County

Photo from the Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Photo from the Mineral Daily News-Tribune

KEYSER, W.Va. – Should local officials be able to successfully talk the owner of Huy Fong Foods into relocating his Sriracha Hot Sauce plant to Mineral County, it could provide a wonderful opportunity for area farmers who might want to add hot peppers to their crop yield.

Local, state and federal elected officials, led by Del. Gary Howell, have been working together to convince David Tran, owner of Huy Fong Foods, to either relocate his existing plant or establish a second plant in Mineral County ever since he has been plagued with complaints about the spicy smell emitted from his Irwindale, Calif., plant.

According to Howell, the plant grinds the chili peppers used to make the sauce for approximately three months out of the year. It is during that process that a spicy odor is present about the facility.

The irwindale plant is located close to a residential area, and residents of four of the nearby homes have complained about the smell.

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, the Irwindale City Council event went so far as to declare the plant a public nuisance, although the presiding judge had expressed the opinion that the complaints lacked credibility.

Howell says, however, he feels “there is more to the story” about the smell, as the owner of one of the four homes is an Irwindale city councilman.

He also questions why, when the plant was built in 2010, the smell only apparently became a problem this past October.

Should the plant relocate to either the Keyser Industrial Park or Fort Ashby Business Park, Howell feels it would be too far from any housing developments for the smell to be a problem.

“You can also install charcoal filters to reduce the smell, which I’m sure would be part of any construction plan if they built here,” he said.

Howell has written letters to Tran, and said Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, as well as Congressman David McKinley, have all said they will write letters, as well.

Wednesday, Howell spoke by phone with West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick, who said he will be scheduling a trip to California in the very near future to meet with Tran.

“A West Virginia delegation will fly to California,” Howell said…

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