Stench from waste facility overwhelms Calif. town

By GILLIAN FLACCUS | May 23, 2011 | 4:28 AM EDT

MECCA, Calif. (AP) — A strong stench that officials say comes from a soil recycling plant on tribal land near the Salton Sea is drawing the concerns of town residents and the government.

Local officials say a propane-like smell recently made dozens of school children and their teachers nauseated in the town of Mecca.

Officials blame Western Environmental, Inc., which operates the facility on land of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.

But the issue has raised the question of how far the state can go in regulating a business on Indian land.

Federal officials have issued an order that essentially shuts the operation down in the short run and requires it to make a number of fixes by the end of the month to mitigate the stench.

Officials from Western Environmental and their attorney did not respond to AP queries seeking comment.