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'We can't move any place else' | Barrio Logan residents sick of bad odor coming from New Leaf BioFuel

An odor going around Barrio Logan is causing some people to get sick, the odor is coming from a biodiesel plant company and residents claim they are getting sick.

SAN DIEGO — “When it's bad and it goes on for days, it literally gets you sick and you want to vomit,” said Senior Property manager Miguel Espinoza.

From headaches, sore throats, irritated eyes to even vomiting–vulnerable residents at the Barrio Senior Villas say they are experiencing these symptoms because of the odor.

“People who have diseases like for example, kidney failure, my husband has cancer, there’s another lady really sick. We have two tenants that are very sick and this doesn’t make it any better,” said Fernanda Corral, a resident who has been living with her husband at Barrio Senior Villas for almost a decade.

It's been happening for years, but recently the smell has gotten even worse and they claim New Leaf Biofuel is to blame for it.

According to New Leaf's website, the company collects used cooking oil from local restaurants which is brought back to their Barrio Logan location, where operators work 24/7 to manufacture the oil into biodiesel fuel.

However, locals tell CBS 8 that having workers manufacture biofuel all day is only causing remnants coming from fumes to stay in the air. 

“We can't move any place else, we can't. There's no way we could make it in an apartment nowadays,” said Corral.

They also add that New Leaf has not taken into consideration their complaints.

With the help of the Environmental Health Coalition they are calling on the Air Pollution Control District to take action.

“No one should live like that, no one should be living like that. So we are here organizing with the community,” said Nicholas Paul, an activist for EHC who was at Barrio Senior Villas donating purifiers and collecting signatures to take action.

After several warnings, APCD has sent New Leaf a letter, informing them of their intentions to file a petition that could eventually lead to fines and then an order to stop producing the smell.

CBS 8 reached out to New Leaf, and they declined to be interviewed on camera. 

However, the company’s president, Jennifer Case, released the following statement:

"We pride ourselves on being good neighbors of Barrio Logan. It’s been our home for more than 15 years to produce safe and environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels without incident. As such, we empathize with the concerns local residents have recently expressed and are working with local regulators to address them as quickly as possible."

Still, families want action now, especially because Barrio Logan has a history of toxic air quality that is already affecting people. 

The hearing will take place on October 27, 2022.

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