DEP, City of Jeannette again order closure of hemp facility

DEP, City of Jeannette again order closure of hemp facility

The City of Jeannette and the state Department of Environmental Protection have separately ordered a controversial hemp-drying facility in Jeannette to close.

The DEP issued its order Monday, telling facility owner Patriot Shield to cease operation within 48 hours. The order prohibits the company from receiving, processing or storing hemp.

The DEP previously issued two notices of odor violations to the company for the strong marijuana-like smell around the Thomas Avenue warehouse.

To resume operations, the company must submit a plan to install and operate air cleaning devices. The DEP would need to review the plan and issue a permit.

“While hemp drying facilities are relatively new operations in this area, they must follow Pennsylvania’s air quality regulations by obtaining DEP authorization through a request for a determination or an application for an air quality plan approval prior to installation and operation of any air contamination source or air cleaning device,” the department said in a statement.

Jeannette issued its own cease-and-desist order Nov. 24.

The city initially ordered the company to stop operations Nov. 13, but lifted the order within a few days when the company took steps to address the odor complaint.

The city issued the new order because of new odor complaints, according to city solicitor Tim Witt. The company had until Monday to submit documents to get an occupancy permit, and had not done so as of Monday afternoon, Witt said.

Workers were at the facility Monday evening, but declined to answer questions. Patriot Shield could not be reached for comment Monday.

In addition to the odor issues, the company has come under fire for delayed payments to its employees, who have gone weeks without a paycheck.

Rose Thomas, a former shift supervisor, said she still has not been paid money she was supposed to have received a month ago.

Farmers brought hemp to Patriot Shield to be dried into smokable hemp flowers. The smoke from hemp flowers tastes like pot and delivers the purported health and relaxation benefits of cannabinoids, without the THC that gets the smoker high.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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