Official wants ordinance aimed at rendering plant

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Rendering plants in Clovis should be regulated more strictly, according to Clovis City Commissioner Robert Sandoval, who is crusading to pass an ordinance that would clean up rendering plants within city limits.

“It is something I am very passionate about,” said Sandoval, an elected representative of District Three, where a rendering plant is located.

Sandoval wants a city ordinance that would allow fines to be levied against plants deemed unsanitary.

Several residents have complained about the Hull Street branch of Champion Pet Foods, according to Sandoval. The plant removes brain matter from dead cattle and sends it to a Texas university to be tested for mad cow disease, while shipping the carcasses to a Champion plant in Dallas to be processed into pet food.

Last fall, residents complained about the stench at the Clovis plant and alleged the carcasses were left exposed in a trailer for days. The plant manager, J.D. Ruthardt, pledged to address the problems by putting a tarp over the carcasses and hiring another driver to ship the carcasses to Dallas daily.

But one area resident contends that conditions at the plant never changed.

“They should at least have the courtesy to get that stuff out of there every day,” said Donald Flasche, who lives less than a quarter mile from the plant.

Ruthardt, however, said cattle carcasses at his plant are removed daily, though they are not covered with a tarp.

“I have been doing my best to try to keep the community happy,” said Ruthardt, who is concerned his plant is being unfairly blamed for problems that occur at other rendering plants in Clovis.

County Services, a rendering plant in Clovis located on South Thornton Street, has also generated complaints, and was cited by a government agency for spilling blood on the highway during its transport of carcasses, Sandoval said.

Ruthardt said local ranchers would have nowhere to dispose of dead cattle if his company did not operate in the area.

“What we do,” he said, “we do for the community. We pick up dead cattle.”

Sandoval said he is aware there is a need for plants such as Champion in Clovis. But he said residents should not have their quality of life disrupted by the operations.

“If this were to happen within a block of the golf course, the problem would have been solved a long time ago,” Sandoval said.