Federal agency to study health effects of odor from Tonopah egg farm

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The federal government plans to a study on the impact of Hickman's Family Farms' operations plant. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The federal government plans to a study on the impact of Hickman's Family Farms' operations plant. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Tuesday night, a team from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry with the U.S. Department of Health Services came out to talk to residents. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Tuesday night, a team from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry with the U.S. Department of Health Services came out to talk to residents. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Researchers are about to begin a study of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia levels coming from both the Arlington and Tonopah farms to see if it poses a health risk to neighbors. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Researchers are about to begin a study of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia levels coming from both the Arlington and Tonopah farms to see if it poses a health risk to neighbors. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TONOPAH, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Neighbors say something stinks west of the Valley, and now the Feds are getting involved. 

Hickman's Family Farms opened up its Tonopah facility with nearly 4 million chickens in 2014. Neighbors say they've been pinching their noses ever since. 

[RELATED: Tonopah residents angry over Hickman's new egg facility (Jan. 10, 2014)]

"On a bad day, you don't go outside because it makes you barf," said resident Pat Reed.

"It can burn your eyes and nose and throat," said resident Dan Mack. 

Residents got together, hired a lawyer and signed a petition. Several years and several lawsuits later, now the federal government is getting involved.

[RELATED: Action groups taking egg production plant complaints to EPA (Oct. 8, 2015)]

"I think it's wonderful I think its about time," said Reed. 

Tuesday night, a team from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry with the U.S. Department of Health Services came out to talk to residents.

Researchers are about to begin a study of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia levels coming from both the Arlington and Tonopah farms to see if it poses a health risk to neighbors. 

"At the levels of exposure we might expect to see here, we're mainly concerned with irritation effect in people's airways or their eyes those kinds of effects," said  Ben Gerhardstein, an environmental health scientist with ATSDR. 

At the same time, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is doing its own study of air from around the farm. 

The ATSDR says it plans to use the state's data, along with possible additional testing of its own, to make a final report. That report will be sent to other agencies with a recommendation on what to do next. 

The process could take several months or longer. 

Hickman's Family Farms set Arizona's Family the following statement: 

"For more than 70 years, Hickman’s Family Farms has been a community and industry leader. Hickman’s is receiving attention because a small group of people, who chose to live on rural land zoned for agricultural use, and some land speculators have decided to file lawsuits against the company. Hickman’s has previously willingly complied with local, state and federal organizations that regulate farms such as ours. Hickman’s is cooperating with the State of Arizona who is currently in week 2 of conducting a properly scoped 3-week investigation into what types, if any, regulated emissions there might be. Although regrettable that a federal agency is encroaching on the state’s jurisdiction in this situation, Hickman’s will prove it remains a good neighbor and faithful to our legal, zoning, and environmental responsibilities. "

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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