Cedar Grove Composting, whose operations have sparked odor complaints in two counties, has settled a lawsuit by agreeing to take more steps to control smells in Maple Valley and to contribute to a publicly managed odor study in Everett.

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Cedar Grove Composting, whose operations have sparked odor complaints in two counties, has settled a lawsuit by agreeing to take more steps to control smells in Maple Valley and to contribute to a publicly managed odor study in Everett.

Under its settlement with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the company will install more mobile sprayers or misters at its Maple Valley location to keep down dust and odors, something Cedar Grove officials say they’ve been experimenting with for several months.

The company also will contribute $200,000 toward a “third-party” study of smells and their sources in the Everett-Marysville area. Many residents blame recurrent odors on the Cedar Grove plant, while a company consultant has attributed most of the smell to a landfill, a sewer plant and other sources.

Cedar Grove, one of the largest composting firms in the nation, turns food scraps and yard waste from Seattle and most of King and Snohomish counties into compost for gardening and landscaping.

Under the settlement signed Wednesday, the Clean Air Agency won’t collect $119,000 or more in fines for 20 alleged violations of air-quality laws. The agency initially imposed $169,000 in fines for the first 17 violations, but the state Pollution Control Hearings Board reduced the amount, saying the company had spent $6.5 million in efforts to control odors.

The settlement ends Cedar Grove’s appeal of the fines in King County Superior Court. It does not prevent the Clean Air Agency from investigating future odor complaints and imposing fines.

“The important thing about this is it avoids costly litigation and puts resources into things that will help management and odor control of the facilities. In that sense it’s a very good settlement,” Cedar Grove spokesman Laird Harris said.

Laurie Halvorson, director of compliance and legal for the Clean Air Agency, said Seattle, King County and the Clean Air Agency will also contribute to the $375,000 odor study to be conducted by Montreal-based Odotech under the agency’s direction.

Halvorson said potential odor sources will be identified, “electronic noses” used to detect smells and a “community odor committee” formed. Details of the study are still being worked out.

The settlement was signed one day after Snohomish County Councilmember Brian Sullivan wrote to Cedar Grove President Steve Banchero complaining about “persistent” odors from the Everett plant.

“I believe that it’s time to stop the lawsuits, pay the fine owed and move forward with solutions,” Sullivan wrote. He could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

Jerry Bartlett, Cedar Grove’s chief environmental sustainability officer, said Cedar Grove is undertaking a number of odor-control measures that aren’t part of the legal settlement, including enclosing a grinder at Everett and seeking permits to build a fully enclosed anaerobic digester there.

Everett resident Jo Newland, who lives just over a mile from the composting plant and complains about “horrendous” smells, said she was worried that Cedar Grove’s strongest critics wouldn’t be included in the community odor committee. But, she said, “I’d be more than happy to have one of the odor monitors set up near my home.”

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com