City told to address organics plant smells
November 26th, 2011
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment says unpleasant odours detected on Guelph’s east side are coming from the city’s new organic waste processing plant.
Vik Kirsch, Mercury staff Sat Nov 26 2011
GUELPH — Guelph’s new eastside organics composting plant is the cause of odours that are bringing complaints from residents in the neighbourhood, the provincial Ministry of the Environment said Friday.
The ministry demanded that the city produce an action plan by the end of the day to address the pungent smells at the plant, which began operating two months ago.
“I can’t believe they’ve built the facility with such faults,” outspoken critic Ken Spira said late Friday afternoon.
Environment Ministry district supervisor Greta Najcler asserted in an email to the Mercury that the ministry will review the municipal plan and “work closely with the city to make sure it takes the action needed to resolve the odours.”
City officials offered assurances last year that the new facility would be odour-free. Senior city official Janet Laird said Friday she believes that to ultimately be the case.
“It’s still very much in the commissioning phase,” said Laird, the city’s planning, building, engineering and environment executive director.
The composting plant was designed and built by Maple Reinders Group Ltd.
“We are confident this facility is able to operate odour-free,” Reinders contract and risk manager Peter Muller said Friday.
He said the Mississauga firm has built four similar facilities in Canada to date. “There’s been the odd odour complaint, which has not been substantiated,” Muller said.
In Guelph, a team is poring over the composting facility to investigate odour complaints, work that will take a week or so.
Though the ministry believes the plant is the source of the odour, “we’re undertaking an investigation,” Laird said, describing the odour-management system at the plant as “tried and true.”
Meanwhile, Laird said the organic waste stream was shut down Friday. “For the time being, it’s going to go to landfill,” she reported.
In recent weeks, homeowners in the area of Stone and Watson roads began noticing unpleasant, garbage-like smells around their homes.
City officials initially suggesting the stench might be coming from industries in the area. But residents were convinced the source was the new organics processing plant on Dunlop Drive, which opened in late September at the nearby Waste Resource Innovation Centre.
The city closed a former compost plant at that location in 2006. Charged by the Environment Ministry for odours, the city paid a $40,000 fine in that episode.
The city previously trumpeted the plant’s innovative design incorporating odour-mitigating features. It uses aerobic, in-vessel composting to generate fewer emissions.
Spira, president of the activist Guelph Waste Management Coalition, said he remains worried for the longer-term future of the organics facility, adding at startup it was operating at only a portion of capacity and already appears to be causing problems.
“They should have never built this facility in the first place.” It’s second version, he said, should have been constructed further from residents as a precaution.
Filed by GWMC Inc.