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Public health concerns, more traffic among reasons some in Tonganoxie pushing back against Tyson

TONGANOXIE, Kan. -- Opposition is growing in Tonganoxie following a recent announcement of plans to build a $320 million Tyson Foods chicken-processing plant just outside of city limits. Many residents say they moved to the small town because it is quiet and laid back, but this plant could bring more traffic and headaches for homeowners.

“It`s within about a mile of my house, that would pretty much put it in my backyard. I am definitely disappointed in that,” said Samantha Tomacelli.

Tomacelli says she is most concerned about the noise and odor, she also fears that having a plant nearby could reduce her property value.

“I`ve already contacted a real estate agent the second I heard. I was like, I probably should get out of my home before it loses value,” she added.

Representatives with the Kansas Sierra Club say there are also many air quality issues and public health concerns that could develop with an increase in traffic.

“These trucks are big, they're open in the back because you can`t enclose the chickens without killing them. It`s documented that they leave a trail of feathers and manure coated with bacteria,” said Craig Volland, Agriculture Committee Chair for the Kansas Sierra Club.

From air quality concerns to possible runoff in streams and waterways experts say an operation of this size will have a tremendous impact on the environment.

“This is going to be a new experience for the people of Northeast Kansas and I think they`re well to be concerned about it,” said Volland.

Supporters of the new plant say it will provide a huge economic boost for the state of Kansas and to individual farmers, ranchers and agricultural business owners in Eastern Kansas.

Tonganoxie residents plan to fight the issue. Many are expected to attend the Leavenworth County Commissioners meeting on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. to share concerns about the plant with local leaders.