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Removal of odor sought at Norbord

Norbord Minnesota's recent $3.2 million investment in an environmentally friendly biofilter to clean the air took the company by surprise when it began to add something new into the air - a musty odor.

For the past six months, according to a press release from Norbord, the Solway oriented strand board manufacturer has worked with experts from Canada and the United States, as well as personnel from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to identify the cause.

Norbord Minnesota, located at 4409 Northwood Road N.W. in Solway, is one of 14 plants based in the United States, Europe and Canada.

While Norbord says the odor is not thought to be harmful to people or the environment, the company will openly address the issue for interested citizens at a public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 17, at Eckles Town Hall on County Road 9, north of the Bemidji Regional airport.

"Even though we've eliminated much of the odor, our neighbors still notice it on occasion, and that's been the case for the past few months," Norbord general manager Jack Wallingford stated in the press release. "You can't smell the odor every day, since it's driven by the wind, but we won't be satisfied until we make substantial improvements."

The likely cause of the odor is a buildup of wood fiber composting inside the biofilter, the news release states, but frequent cleaning of the entire system to remove the buildup has only muffled the odor.

Removing the wood fiber before it enters the biofilter could cost the company $1 million, but Norbord said it is prepared invest in a solution to the odor problem.

Each year Norbord produces the equivalent of 12 million 4-foot-by-8-foot sheets of OSB for use in building construction, furniture making and other uses. In addition, the company spends $8 million each year with local suppliers and contractors and $20 million for the wood needed to make OSB.

For details, contact Wallingford at 751-2023 or, or Steve Greenfield of Greenfield Communications at 218-260-7283 or