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Officials Hope to Reduce City’s Stench

December 11, 1985

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ A plan to take the aroma out of Tacoma stands a good chance of reducing the rotten-egg smell that has sickened Bruce Springsteen and been the subject of a country-western tune, officials say.

″A lot of the odor of Tacoma may be a thing of the past,″ said Jim Nolan, senior air pollution engineer for the Puget Sound Air Pollution Control Agency.

Attempts have been made over the years to control the stench of total reduced sulfur, a by-product of paper-making at the Simpson Tacoma Kraft Mill Co. The latest plan calls for burning the putrid gas in the plant’s two lime kilns, said Jerry K. Ficklin, manager of environmental services.

If the system is designed properly, ″the odor should be reduced significantly,″ Mark Hooper, an engineer with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said recently.

″Subjectively, it should be better. The odors shouldn’t be as strong as they are,″ said Dick Burkhalter of the state Department of Ecology.

Ficklin was more cautious: ″There will always be an aroma associated with a pulp mill. Obviously, we are going to be spending quite a few million dollars on a system, and there should be some improvement.″

During the late 1960s and early ’70s, the stench was so notorious that a song called ″The Aroma of Tacoma″ could be found on truck-stop jukeboxes throughout the West. Springsteen became sickened during a recent visit.

″Odor is dependent upon who is smelling it,″ Ficklin said. ″Some people are more sensitive to a pulp mill odor than someone else.″

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