A chicken parts rendering plant in Truro is creating quite a stink in the town — literally and figuratively. 

The rendering plant, which opened in 1956, processes and breaks down chicken parts and used cooking oil from restaurants for livestock feed and fertilizer, among other uses. 

'Some days it's so strong, it's gag-worthy and you simply cannot be outside' - Christina Edwards

"Anything that can't be sold, so the beak, the feet, the feathers — all the parts that can't be used or sold in a grocery store are rendered in the Truro plant," said Christina Edwards, who has lived in Truro since she was a child.

But in recent years, the smell from the plant has been getting worse. Depending of the way the wind shifts, downtown Truro can be choked in the stench.  

"There's no one safe from it, it's all across the town," said Edwards.

"It's really quite hard to describe. It's extremely pungent and it's actually something that — some days it's so strong it's gag-worthy and you simply cannot be outside. You're shutting your windows and you're hiding inside from the smell." 

The Rothsay rendering plant was acquired by the Texas-based Darling Ingredients Inc.in October 2013. The plant is located in Lower Truro, about five kilometres from Edwards's home. She said when the wind's out of the west, she closes her windows.  

Stench can wake you 'out of a dead sleep'

"I've been woken up out of a dead sleep. Three o'clock in the morning with my windows open in the middle of summer, woken up going 'What is that stench?' and had to get up and close all my curtains and light matches and spray air freshener just so I can go to sleep again because the smell hangs in the air for so long afterwards," she said.

It has gotten so bad Edwards called the plant's manager Kim Unger. 

"He agreed that it had been getting worse over the last two years. This summer, in particular, has been worse," she said.

"As a kid, you'd smell it the odd day, but it's been a daily occurrence since at least early June." 

Rothsay claims it recycles 2.5-billion kilograms of inedible animal by products in Canada annually. It says it contributes $11 million annually to Truro's economy.

"These materials begin to biologically breakdown at the time they are created by the generators and this natural, biological activity, in addition to the heat used in our process, has the potential to generate odour," Darling said in a statement. 

"The facility employs procedures and control equipment, approved by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment (NSDE), to capture and treat the odours from the operation. These abatement efforts from time to time need to be re-evaluated and as the new owner we are currently involved in that process."

Truro Mayor Bill Mills said the company has told him the increased stench is caused by the processing of chicken feathers in humid weather. Mills said he has been in contact with the company who has promised to work on the problem.   

There's a town meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Truro fire hall on Victoria Street to discuss the problems with the plant.