Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fix for smelly compost plant in the works

GUELPH — A draft plan for addressing the odour problem experienced in the early stages of Guelph’s new compost facility contains a fix for the smells, a top city official said Monday. But details of that proposed remedy are not being publicly revealed until the draft plan can be studied, questioned and possibly tweaked by a public liaison committee. The committee is to meet Dec. 20. “Yes, of course, that’s the intention, is to create a fix for the problem,” said Janet Laird, Guelph’s director of planning, building, engineering and environment, speaking of the draft plan. “We won’t, I guess, know for sure until it’s fully implemented and we get to monitor its effectiveness.” The plan, she said, includes everything the facility’s designer/builder Maple Reinders, the city, the ministry and other principals “can think of to fix the problem.” The nearly $33-million Organic Waste Processing Facility built by Maple Reinders Group Ltd. was lauded as an odour-free facility when it officially opened on Sept. 27. But it discontinued processing deliveries of additional green bag organic waste on Nov. 25 after several complaints were received from residents near the eastside plant. Since then, the city has been sending residential wet waste to landfill. Laird said on Nov. 28 she hoped the issue could be resolved within two weeks. On Monday, she said Maple Reinders has prepared a draft plan, and is continuing to work on the plant’s systems to address the problem. While the plant is not receiving additional waste material, it is continuing to process the compost material inside. There have been no further odour escapes that the city is aware of, she added. Laird said as a courtesy to public liaison committee members, she did not want to reveal details of the draft plan until a meeting is held with that group. But she said the plan was discussed with the Ministry of the Environment on Friday. “There is a strong desire from both the ministry and the city to take it first to the public liaison committee before we share it with the community, because we want to respect the public liaison committee’s role in this,” Laird said. “I think it’s safe to say that in the meantime, Maple Reinders is still undertaking their review of their air management and odour control systems,” she continued. “They’re making any upgrades as they go along that don’t require further approval.” Ken Spira is president of the community action group Guelph Waste Management Coalition, and he is part of the public liaison committee. Some of the coalition’s members, who live near the plant, reported the odours in November. He said Monday the city is seeking a special meeting on Dec. 20 “to review Maple Reinder’s draft action plan that was developed to investigate the facility’s odour management system.” The city, he added, wants input from public liaison committee members on the plan. Spira said he “has no clue what they are up to,” since he has not seen the draft plan. While he requested to have the meeting deferred until Jan. 12 due to the approach of Christmas, the city wants the meeting to proceed on Dec. 20 because there is a “need to finalize the plan as soon as possible.” “Obviously, they have some sort of action plan which they’ve reviewed with the ministry,” he added. “I am at least grateful that any action plan will be discussed with the PLC so that we can comment prior to implementation, of whatever it is.”

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