TACOMA - The Tacoma aroma is almost gone.
The Simpson Tacoma Kraft pulp mill last month shut down its 38-year-old furnace, which was responsible for about 70 percent of the facility's output of sulphur compounds - and much of the city's rotten-egg smell.
"It's a very positive thing," said Mayor Brian Ebersole. "They've made huge strides to reduce the odor."
Simpson has been promising to phase out the furnace since 1994, when the company started constructing a $59 million facility to recycle used cardboard. The recycling operation opened in 1995 and now accounts for about 40 percent of the mill's output.
As a result, the mill has been able to scale back chemical pulping of wood chips - the process that generates the foul-smelling byproducts - and stop using the furnace.
"If we weren't using so much recycled material, we wouldn't be in a position to shut it down," said Simpson spokesman John Hassell.