Odor Complaint

Reporting Odors to the City Odor Complaint Form

Odors noticeable beyond a property line are considered a public nuisance within the South St. Paul City Code. The City has the ability to address the odors through the Code’s public nuisance and odor ordinance provisions. Residents, property owners, and other concerned citizens should contact the City of South St. Paul regarding any odor concerns and the City will investigate and enforce the City’s ordinances.

Submitting an Odor Complaint

It is important to notify the City of an odor concern as soon as you can. Early reporting provides the best opportunity for odor investigation, verification, and strength measurement.

  • To submit an odor complaint, select this link, Odor Complaint Form or call (651) 554-3257.
  • When filing a complaint, please help our investigation by providing the following information:
    • Date and time that you noticed the odor?
    • Where was odor noticeable? Did you notice the odor in multiple locations and if so where?
    • Describe the odor – For example, did it have a chemical, burning, rotten or decaying smell? Was it a sweet odor or a sour odor? This information can help identify the potential odor source. Please note: If you are in a building and notice a mercaptan/natural gas odor, PLEASE LEAVE THE BUILDING IMMEDIATELY AND CALL 911 FROM A SAFE LOCATION TO REPORT A POSSIBLE GAS LEAK.
    • Provide your assessment of the odor strength on a 0-10 scale with 0 being no odor and 10 being extremely strong odor.
    • Wind direction (if you don’t know, answer that you don’t know). You can look up the wind direction and speed at this National Weather Service website link
  • Upon receipt of an odor complaint, a City representative will visit the site to substantiate and measure the pr esence or absence of an odor. A field olfactometer device (odor measurement device that resembles a megaphone) will be used to quantify odor strength. The results of the odor measurement, weather conditions, and any noteworthy activities or observations will be recorded and an attempt will be made to determine the odor source.
  • If a significant odor is present, the responsible party will be notified. If a property accumulates 6 violations within a 6 month period, the property can be classified as a Significant Odor Generator and the responsible party can be required to prepare an odor mitigation plan for the reduction of odors.

Odor Regulations and Testing

Consistent and pervasive odors can have a negative impact on the quality of life for residents, employees and others present in the community. Sensitivity to odor issues likely has changed since the community’s past when it was home to huge stockyards and an enormous meat packing industry. Since those times, large industrial plants have gradually closed and have been replaced by light industrial and office buildings. Odor generated from some of the remaining legacy users however, can still be very malodorous and may have a negative impact on the development and redevelopment of the community. Because of these consequences, the City Council determined that an odor ordinance would be necessary for the effective regulation of odors and appropriate protection of residential and commercial / industrial properties.

Odor Ordinance

On July 7, 2014 the City Council adopted an Odor Ordinance which establishes odor limitations and procedures for dealing with significant odor generators. Through the ordinance, the City hired a consultant that tested odor generated near facilities that were self-identified in the 2013 Odor Consortium study. The City’s consultant determines the nature of the odor, the odor levels at specific sites and then determines whether a facility should be deemed a significant odor generator. A significant odor generator is then required to develop and implement an odor mitigation plan.

Odor Testing

To initiate the Odor Ordinance, the City hired SEH consultants for testing and monitoring odors around certain facilities that were self-identified in the 2013 Odor Consortium study. The testing helped to provide factual data about the presence of odors and odor levels around these properties.

The City's consultant has submitted a report on the findings of this initial round of odor identification and testing.

South St. Paul Business Consortium Study

The businesses of Dakota Premium Foods, Twin City Hide, Twin City Tanning, and Sanimax formed a consortium to preliminarily identify and monitor the presence and extent of odors generated in the surrounding community. This 2013 Odor Consortium study was an independent undertaking and was not sponsored by the City. The City, however, did support the study efforts and the consortium graciously shared its complaint information and odor monitoring results. The Business Consortium Study also identified sites that contributed to odors in the community.