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Guelph to pay $40,000 fine for odor (November 26, 2007)

The City of Guelph has pled guilty to releasing odors from its composting plant in 2005 and must pay a $40,000 fine...


The City of Guelph has pled guilty to releasing odors from its composting plant in 2005 and must pay a $40,000 fine. Other related charges against the city and against former plant manager Cathy Smith employee have been dropped.

The plea and fine relate to charges laid in the summer of 2006 by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment after the plant had closed. The province and city and the province presented a joint statement of facts to the court on November 22.

The case relates to a series of complaints from residents around the area of the organics processing facility on Stone Road in Guelph, particularly complaints on 27 days between January and October 2005, according to the statement.

The statement says odors were caused by a variety of issues including: problems with the biofilter; unloading and screening materials when winds were blowing toward nearby homes; leaving doors to the facility open; and failing to maintain negative pressure at the building.

Harry Poch, legal counsel for the city, stated, The city recognizes there were fugitive odor emissions during the charge period that caused discomfort to some residents.

The ministry warned the city in 1997 — about a year after the plant opened — that odor problems could develop and the city made an effort to implement solutions, but they were not completely successful.

Guelph commissioned at least seven studies, costing more than $600,000, to figure out how to prevent odors. It consulted with experts, applied for a new air filter — which was never installed — replaced filtration material in existing filters, and reorganized the plants procedures and operations.

A committee for the city is in the process of choosing a new composting technology, likely to be put in place at the site of the existing mothballed plant.

Note: This news item is based on an article by Magda Konieczna, a reporter for the Guelph Mercury. Here are further details of the charges, from a related blog from the newspaper accessible at

http://guelphmercury.blogs.com/59_carden_st/2007/11/for-the-record.html

The city pled guilty to this charge:

Between January 14, 2005 and October 29, 2005, did commit the offence of discharging a contaminant or causing or permitting the discharge of a contaminant, namely odor into the natural environment contrary to Section 14 (1) of the EPA.

These charges against the city were dropped:

Between January 14, 2005 and October 29, 2005, did commit the offence of failing to comply with Condition 5 (1) (a) of Provisional Certificate of Approval number A170128, by failing to operate and maintain the site in an environmentally safe manner which minimizes odors, contrary to Section186 (3) of the EPA.

Between December 24, 2004 and July 27, 2005, did commit the offence of failing to comply with Condition 23 (1) of Provisional Certificate of Approval number A170128, by failing to maintain a written record of daily site inspections, contrary to Section 186 (3) of the EPA.

December 21, 2004 and August 8, 2005, did commit the offence of failing to comply with term or Condition 4 of amended Certificate of Approval number 9326-5ZUN89, by failing to notify the District Manager in writing, contrary to Section 186 (3) of the EPA.

Between May 11, 2005 and November 23, 2005, did commit the offence of failing to comply with Condition 7 (1) of Provisional Certificate of Approval number A170128, by failing to conduct daily litter pickup from the site and roads and ditches within one kilometer of the site, contrary to Section 186 (3) of the EPA.

On May 11, 2005, did commit the offence of failing to comply with Condition 9 (2) of Provisional Certificate of Approval number A170128, by failing to ensure that the Organic Waste Processing Building and composter are maintained at a negative pressure at all times unless an emergency occurs, contrary to Section 186 (3) of the EPA.

On or about September 7, 2005, did commit the offence of failing to comply with Condition 9 (2) of Provisional Certificate of Approval number A170128, by failing to ensure that the Organic Waste Processing Building and composter are maintained at a negative pressure at all times unless an emergency occurs, contrary to Section 186 (3) of the EPA.

On or about December 7, 2005, did commit the offence of failing to comply with Condition 9 (2) of Provisional Certificate of Approval number A170128, by failing to ensure that the Organic Waste Processing Building and composter are maintained at a negative pressure at all times unless an emergency occurs, contrary to Section 186 (3) of the EPA.

These charges against former waste manager Cathy Smith were dropped:

Between March 11, 2005 and March 16, 2005, did commit the offence of discharging a contaminant or causing or permitting the discharge of a contaminant, namely odour, into the natural environment contrary to Section14 (1) of the EPA.

Between March 11, 2005 and March 16, 2005, did commit the offence of failing to comply with Condition 5 (1) (a) of Provisional Certificate of Approval Number A170128, by failing to operate and maintain the site in an environmentally friendly manner which minimizes odour contrary to Section 186 (3) of the EPA.


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