Friday, October 02, 2009

Waste company faces charges on odour.

OTTAWA-The Quebec Ministry of Environment has charged a waste management company with emitting foul odours while it was composting Ottawa sewage sludge and pulp mill waste at a plant in l'Ange-Gardien near Buckingham.Christian Perron, a spokesman for the Quebec Ministry of Environment, said the province is investigating odour complaints against GSI Environment Inc. under the Quebec Environmental Quality Act. Companies convicted of violating the act face fines of $6,000 to $250,000 for a first offence and up to $1 million for subsequent convictions.The municipality of L'Ange-Gardien had sought an injunction to get GSI to comply with provincial environmental regulations or stop its operations, but halted the proceedings when the company stopped accepting material in 2008.Raymond Côté, who lives downwind and across the street from the plant, said the smell used to be "like a fish-processing plant, but worse." Since the firm's closing the foul odours have diminished, said Côté. GSI, which has its head office in Mississauga, has also been charged with five environmental violations in Lachute and 19 in Saint-Basile-le-Grand in Quebec's Montérégie region.Les Composts du Québec, Inc., a subsidiary of GSI, began operating an indoor composting plant in l'Ange-Gardien in 1996. Calls to GSI were not returned.Nicole Desroches, director of the environmental group the Conseil régionale de l'environnement et du développement durable de l'Outaouais, said lagoons that were used to collect liquid leachate from the compost produced the foul odour. L'Ange-Gardien Mayor Armand Renaud said people complained about odours when the company mixed the material outdoors."If they didn't mix it outside it would get so hot inside that it would catch fire," Renaud said. "People told me that they had tractor trailers filled with sewage sludge coming in from Ottawa and the United States. Neighbours used to complain a lot because the smell was right in their window. A lot of these compost plants are in trouble now because they have odour problems and they are having trouble getting raw material."Renaud said GSI would need the permission of the Ministry of Environment and the town to reopen the plant. Michel Chevalier, Ottawa's manager of waste water and drainage, said Ottawa had a five-year contract with GSI to dispose of 22,000 tonnes a year of sewage sludge in l'Ange-Gardien for $68 a tonne, but the company stopped the service in November 2008."They wanted more money and we negotiated with them, but at one point they pulled the plug and said they weren't going to do it any more," Chevalier said. "GSI said odour was a problem and that was one of the reasons they weren't going to l'Ange-Gardien.Chevalier says most of Ottawa's sewage sludge is now spread on farm fields in Eastern Ontario."Some of it goes to landfills, some is composted at another GSI plant near Sherbrooke but most of it is land applied. They spread it on the fields and it has to be mixed immediately."Gatineau councillor Alain Pilon said Gatineau had been sending some yard waste to the GSI site, but switched to another plant in Moose Creek, Ont., when the l'Ange-Gardien mayor said he didn't want Gatineau's waste.Gatineau has called tenders to compost the city's table scraps and yard waste, possibly at a site on Hawthorne Road in Ottawa or in Moose Creek, Ont., starting in May 2010.
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