Is Odor a Pollutant? It Can Be a Sneaky Exposure.

From landfill emissions to farm waste, complaints over odors can escalate to legal action. So, can odors or emissions be considered pollutants?  A “pollutant” may be defined as: Any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals, and waste.

While some insurance policies are vague when it comes to odors or fumes, others specifically include or exclude this type of release. It’s important for agents and their insureds to fully understand a carrier’s stance on this topic.

Let’s take a look some industries where odor has proven to cause costly pollution claims:

Asphalt Company to Pay $1.45 Million Over Claims of Causing Emissions, Noxious Odors
A construction material supply company will pay up to $1.45 million and repair and upgrade its Chelmsford plant to settle allegations that it produced asphalt in violation of its permit and caused emissions and noxious odors that caused a public nuisance in the surrounding suburban neighborhood.

Smithfield Settles Lawsuits Over Smell of Hog Farms in North Carolina
A series of juries had awarded $550 million in damages in five cases to neighbors living near Smithfield contractor farms in the southeastern part of the state. State law capping punitive damages knocked the total to $98 million.

Settlement reached in lawsuit filed by Bristol, Tennessee, against Bristol, Virginia, over ongoing foul odors from that city’s landfill
Bristol’s two city governments issued a joint statement Friday saying they have reached a settlement in the federal lawsuit filed by Bristol, Tennessee, over Bristol, Virginia’s problematic landfill that would include a one-time payment of $300,000.

Ohio EPA seeks legal action against biodigester pollution near Clark County
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has referred Renergy, Inc., and Dovetail Bioenergy in Greene County’s Bath Twp. to the Ohio Attorney General for legal action, citing violations of Ohio’s air and water pollution laws. Greene County energy facility has been the source of years of resident complaints over odors.

JBS plant in Butchertown sued for odor
The company said they would conduct internal audits for odor control and agreed to go by a new five-point intensity scale. They paid more than $127,000 for past violations and are facing more fines.

Stinking Pennsylvania hemp facility cited for air pollution, ordered to close
Prompted by the stink of a drying facility near Pittsburgh, the Department of environmental Protection on Monday issued a cease-and-desist order to a malodorous hemp business. A DEP spokeswoman said locals said the smell was giving them headaches and causing nausea. When the DEP went to investigate, it found the pungent odor hung like a cloud over the community.

Want to submit an account or discuss odor pollution more? Contact the Beacon Hill team today.