The thermal oxidizer located outside the Thursday Pools facility in Fortville is designed to draw in and remove odors and volatile organic compounds. The company is adding equipment to keep up with its expansion. Mitchell Kirk | Daily reporter
FORTVILLE – A company that makes swimming pools says it is working to prevent an odor created during its manufacturing process from spreading to nearby neighborhoods.
Residents who live near Thursday Pools, LLC report being overwhelmed by a plastic-like odor and even blaming it for headaches and nausea. A company official claims its emissions are not dangerous, but admits that they create a noticeable odor.
The facility has equipment that prevents the smell from getting far outside its walls. However, recent building additions have caused it to outgrow the device’s capabilities. More parts are slated to arrive in the next few months that the company says will bring the device back to work.
Thursday Pools manufactures one-piece recessed pools at 840 Commerce Parkway in Fortville. The process involves spraying gelcoat, fiberglass, and a polyester resin onto molds that form the pools, said Bill Khamis, co-owner and chief financial officer of the company.
Khamis said that the polyester resin and gelcoat create an odor and that the resin in particular has a low threshold for humans.
“People will smell it at a very low level,” he said.
The polyester resin the company uses is the same type found in many everyday items, Khamis continued, including styrofoam cups and plates.
As the resin dries during the manufacturing process, some of it evaporates and releases volatile organic compounds, so the company needs a permit to comply with the Clean Air Act.
Khamis said compliance with environmental regulations is a rigorous process that the company takes seriously. It includes regular and surprise audits by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, as well as submitting reports and emissions calculations to the state.
“When we say you have to get in touch, it’s not a letter at the end of the year calling you and saying, ‘Yeah, we did well,'” said Khamis.
Materials that employees work with also spur certain requirements from the labor protection agency, he continued, such as wearing respirators when applying gelcoat.
A plastic-like smell was noticeable on Monday, April 26th, at noon in the Alix Collins neighborhood near Thursday Pools. Collins said that she smells the smell at least three times a week and that it is usually much stronger in the early morning.
“It makes you feel sick,” she said. “Sometimes you have to close the windows because it’s so strong.”
Jarred Duebel, who also lives near the store with his wife and young son, had a similar experience last month at a Fortville City Council meeting. He said he first noticed a strong plastic odor about a year ago and that it has gotten worse since then.
“I’m not here to disrupt small businesses, but it has become a big problem,” said Duebel.
At first, a couple of weeks could have passed without him noticing anything, he said. Now it could return for several days in a row. Like Collins, he usually notices it in the morning.
“It got to the point, and I’m definitely not trying to be dramatic where it’s disgusting, where we have a headache,” said Duebel.
The smell can be so strong that he notices it in his living room, he went on, adding that he and his wife were considering moving.
The permission to fly from Thursday Pools currently needs to be renewed. IDEM Public Information Officer Barry Sneed told the Daily Reporter in an email that the Environmental Protection Agency review of the proposed permit should be completed on May 5th.
“Provided the EPA has no comments, the approval would be issued within a few days,” said Sneed. “If the EPA has any comments we will address them prior to publication.”
The public comment deadline for the permit drew feedback from three Fortville residents who raised concerns about the odor, including reports of headaches and fears of damage to health.
While the company is under no obligation to do so, Thursday Pools completed the installation of a device called a thermal oxidizer about a year ago, Khamis said. The device draws air from the system and burns natural gas to heat it to a high temperature, eliminating the trapped odor and volatile organic compounds.
“It was in and out because they are very picky,” said Khamis. “But they work. Now we have only grown and are not using our full capacity. But there is more to come. “
Thursday Pools has expanded its facility in recent years and is currently in further expansion.
Khamis said the company has purchased additional parts for its thermal oxidizer that are expected to arrive in the next seven to eight weeks.
“If that’s in there, you smell nothing,” he said.
The company is also developing a robot for applying the gelcoat of swimming pools, which Khamis says will be much more controlled than a human operator, resulting in fewer emissions. Thursday Pools received a $ 25,000 grant to support the project from IDEM.
The company also has ISO 14001 certification, an international standard for environmental management systems that includes reducing the ecological footprint and creating safe working environments for employees.
IDEM included the company in its Environmental Stewardship Program in 2018.
In response to local residents ‘comments in Thursday Pools’ proposed permit, IDEM said it has no authority to consider odors when issuing air permits and regulate odors. This matter is a matter for local governments, the ministry continued.
Fortville officials and Khamis discussed the smell and the company’s plans to take action at a city council meeting earlier this month. Councilor Robert Holland expressed his confidence in the company’s ability to find a solution.
“I know you are very aware of that,” Holland told Khamis. “I also know from my time up here that you guys easily managed more than the bare minimum.”
Khamis encouraged residents to call 317-408-2668 or any concerns. to turn to him [email protected].
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