Odor from east Raleigh business doesn't pass the smell test

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A pungent odor wafting through east Raleigh has some local business owners questioning, "What's that smell?" (WTVD)

A pungent odor wafting through east Raleigh has some local business owners questioning, "What's that smell?"

The expression "fences make great neighbors" would ring true for several businesses in that area if those fences blocked the smell.

"We didn't have any issues until he moved in," said Garry Oates, who owns Garry's Auto Service and has been in the east Raleigh location for 10 years now.

Oates is referring to his neighbor GreaseCycle, a sustainable company that per its website refines oil for the biodiesel industry.

"We collect used cooking oil, refine it and source it as a feedstock into the biodiesel industry. We also pump out and clean restaurant grease traps. We then render out the usable brown grease from this mixture of water, food solids, and grease. This brown grease is then sold as bunker fuel for ships. The wastewater is processed, and the food solids are composted."

Oates told ABC11 that he closed his business Tuesday because a foul odor was coming from GreaseCycle.

"I had customers leave, they couldn't take it," Oates said. "They put they shirt over they face and they left."

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GreaseCycle president Dylan Gehrken said, per his last inspection, that his business "passed with flying colors."

The business' next door neighbor, Joe Tannery, said the smell was so awful that he called 911.

"I was scared," Tannery told ABC11. "I was nauseous and one of my employees threw up."

Tannery, who also owns the property where Garry's Auto Service is located, said he was fearful that his tenants would leave due to the smell.

"What I was telling (Gehrken) is that even cars have emissions to keep the smells down and the pollution down. So I don't see why he shouldn't be required to have that."

Gehrken claims the odors from the burning of brown grease, which is the source of the smell, are not harmful or hazardous and none of his employees have ever become sick.

He told ABC11 that if he introduced a deodorizer to the burning process, then he would also be bringing more chemicals into the mix.

Out of courtesy to his neighbors, Gehrken met with Oates and Tannery on Wednesday to work out a solution.

Gehrken said GreaseCycle will cook its brown grease during hours when Oates and Tannery are not in business so he doesn't inconvenience them further.

"I think that's a reasonable middle ground," Gehrken said.

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