Environment ministry says ongoing odour concerns from Coast Environmental Ltd. in Chemainus are currently under review. (File photo)

Chemainus odour concerns catches attention of B.C. environment minister

Smells around a waste and compost treatment facility have been ongoing for years

North Cowichan’s concerns with ongoing odour issues around a waste and compost treatment facility in Chemainus will be taken into consideration, according to the minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

In a letter to council, Minister George Heyman said Coast Environmental Ltd.’s application for the new Organic Matter Recycling Regulation permit from his ministry is currently under review.

Heyman said odour management, leachate, surface-water management and associated controls are key aspects of the review.

He said the ministry has been working in collaboration with staff at North Cowichan, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, and the Vancouver Island Health Authority on the review and once completed, a draft authorization will be circulated for comment to Coast Environment and the local governments before a final decision is made regarding the issuance of the permit.

The decision to send the minister a letter expressing concerns with odours from the facility was made on Jan. 17 after Mayor Jon Lefebure gave a verbal report to council on the odours that many believe come from Coast Environmental, which is located in the Chemainus Industrial Park.

Coast Environmental, which has been in operation for more than five years, deals mostly with waste water, soil treatment, recycling and composting.

There have been complaints about the odours in the area around the facility for years, but the number of complaints dramatically increased in the last few months of 2017, prompting the municipality to investigate.

The facility is located in North Cowichan, but jurisdiction for its operations is shared among a number of authorities.

All facilities that process more than 5,000 tonnes of compost per year are now required to obtain an Organic Matter Recycling Regulation permit from the Ministry of Environment, and Coast Environmental’s OMRR permit application is currently being reviewed by the ministry.

In its letter to the ministry, North Cowichan asked that the ministry integrate odour regulation and mitigation to the “greatest extent possible” into the review of both the company’s permit application, as well as any future amendments to the OMRR itself.

“Specifically, council is requesting that the OMRR be amended to require any commercial composting materials, products or substances to be managed and stored in a manner that prevents or substantially minimizes odour impacts on communities surrounding waste-management facilities,” council’s letter stated.

The minister responded that amendments to the OMRR are currently underway and an intentions paper is expected to be tabled this spring.

“A number of policy topics are under consideration, including clarity around what is required in compost facility odour management plans, as well as stronger language to support compliance and enforcement with odour management plans,” Heyman said in response.

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