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Sriracha hot sauce plant owner vows to stay in California: report

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The maker of the popular Sriracha hot pepper sauce does not intend to move his factory out of California, despite complaints over the smell that have prompted local officials to consider declaring it a public nuisance, NPR reported on Monday.

Officials in the Los Angeles suburb of Irwindale sued Huy Fong Foods, maker of Sriracha, last October after some residents said the plant's peppery fumes were giving them headaches and irritating their eyes and throats.

The following month, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered the hot sauce maker to curb any noxious emissions, although he stopped short of requiring a shutdown of the plant that the city had sought.

Irwindale city council members are scheduled to consider a resolution this week to have the factory declared a public nuisance, although a spokesman said they were likely to postpone a vote as the two sides seek a solution.

Huy Fong Foods has said it has received offers from some two dozen other towns and communities, including several in Texas, to move the factory there. U.S. Representative Tony Cardenas has sought to woo the company to his Los Angeles-area jurisdiction.

But Huy Fong Chief Executive Officer David Tran, an ethic Chinese immigrant from Vietnam who founded his company in Southern California in 1980, told NPR in an interview broadcast on Monday that he has no plans to leave the state.

"We're still here," Tran said. "I've lived in California for 34, 35 years now. I'm not planning to move."

Tran could not be reached by Reuters for comment on Monday, nor could Irwindale City Attorney Fred Galante, who told NPR the city was still trying to "work this out informally" and that he hoped Sriracha would not be forced to move.

Declaring the factory a nuisance could pave the way for Irwindale, 20 miles east of Los Angeles, to act on its own to remedy the fumes, with the company assuming any abatement costs.

Huy Fong Foods has 70 full-time employees and 200 seasonal workers and produces over 20 million bottles of hot sauce yearly, packaged in distinctive squeeze bottles with a green cap and trademark rooster logo.

The 600,000-square-foot, $50 million factory opened in Irwindale in 2010, according to a Republican congressional candidate in the district that includes Irwindale.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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