The thermal oxidizer outside the Thursday Pools facility in Fortville is designed to absorb and remove odors and volatile organic compounds. The company is adding equipment to keep up with the expansion. Mitchell Kirk | Daily reporter The thermal oxidizer outside the Thursday Pools facility in Fortville is designed to absorb and remove odors and volatile organic compounds. The company is adding equipment to keep up with the expansion. Mitchell Kirk | Daily reporterEmployees apply fiber to a pool at Thursday Pools in Fortville in 2019. File photo
FORTVILLE – A swimming pool manufacturer is working to prevent an odor created during the manufacturing process from spreading to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Residents who live near Thursday Pools, LLC report being overwhelmed by a plastic-like odor, even blaming headaches and nausea. A company official claims its emissions are not dangerous, but admits that they create a noticeable odor.
The system has devices designed to prevent the smell from drifting far outside its walls. However, recent building expansions have caused the device to outgrow the capabilities of the device. More parts are slated to arrive in the next few months that the company says will bring the device back up and running.
Thursday Pools manufactures one-piece in-ground pools on 840 Commerce Parkway in Fortville. The process involves spraying gelcoat, fiberglass, and a polyester resin on molds that shape the pools, said Bill Khamis, co-owner and chief financial officer of the company.
Khamis said that the polyester resin and gel coating produced an odor and that the resin in particular had a low detection threshold for humans.
“People will smell it at very low levels,” he said.
The polyester resin the company uses is the same as found in many everyday items, Khamis continued, including styrofoam cups and plates.
As the resin dries during the pool making process, some of it evaporates and gives off volatile organic compounds. The company must therefore have a permit stating compliance with the Clean Air Act.
Khamis said that following environmental regulations is a strict 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 single letter at the end of the year that calls you on the phone and says, ‘Yes, we did well,” said Khamis.
Materials that employees work with also spur certain requirements from the health and safety authority, such as wearing respiratory masks when applying gelcoat.
A plastic-like odor was noticeable in Alix Collins’ neighborhood near Thursday Pools on Monday, April 26th at noon. Collins said she noticed the smell at least three times a week and it was usually far stronger in the early morning.
“It kind of makes you sick in the stomach,” she said. “Sometimes you have to close your windows because it’s so strong.”
Jarred Duebel, who also lives near the store with his wife and young son, shared a similar experience at a Fortville City Council meeting last month. He said he first noticed a strong plastic smell about a year ago and has since gotten worse.
“I’m not here to disrupt small businesses in any way, 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 not trying to be dramatic where it’s bad, 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 considered moving.
The air permit for Thursday Pools can currently be renewed. IDEM information officer Barry Sneed emailed the Daily Reporter that the environmental protection agency’s review of the proposed permit should be completed by May 5th.
“Assuming the EPA has no comments, approval would be granted within a few days,” said Sneed. “If the EPA has comments, we will address them before the exhibition.”
The public comment period 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, 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 is the only thing we’ve grown and it’s not about our entire capacity. But we have more plans. “
Thursday Pools has expanded its facility in recent years and is currently expanding.
Khamis said the company has purchased additional parts for its thermal oxidizer that are expected to arrive in the next seven to eight weeks.
“Once that’s in, you won’t smell anything,” he said.
The company is also developing a robot to apply the gel coating to pools, which Khamis says will be much more controlled than a human operator, resulting in fewer emissions. Thursday Pools received a $ 25,000 grant from IDEM to support the project.
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 responsibility program in 2018.
In response to residents ‘comments in Thursday Pools’ proposed permit, IDEM said it had no authority to consider odors when issuing air permits, and it had no authority to regulate odors. This matter falls under the authority of local governments, the department continued.
Fortville officials and Khamis discussed the smell at a city council meeting earlier this month and the company’s plans to address it. 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 easily did more than the minimum than you needed.”
Khamis encouraged residents to contact him at 317-408-2668 or [email protected] with any concerns.
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