Chemainiacs protest stench from waste businesses

The Little Town That Stinks.
That’s what some Chemainiacs called Mural Town on Saturday because of a chronic stench wafting from the Chemainus Industrial Park.
About 75 folks hoisted signs and marched along the Island Highway fronting Chemainus Composting Inc.’s soil- composting operation, and a septage truck-transfer station.

Chemainiacs Sharon Greer (left)

Chemainiacs Sharon Greer (left)

The Little Town That Stinks.

That’s what some Chemainiacs called Mural Town on Saturday because of a chronic stench wafting from the Chemainus Industrial Park.

About 75 folks hoisted signs and marched along the Island Highway fronting Chemainus Composting Inc.’s soil- composting operation, and a septage truck-transfer station.

Many demanded local leaders order the gated businesses — believed to be the offending operations — moved downwind somewhere.

“Move it, absolutely,” Sharon Greer said.

She and other locals are tried of the odour from sewage and other wastes handled and treated at the industrially zoned site owned by Chemainus Park Holdings.

Mike Hayhoe agreed, citing potential health hazards from the foul air.

“We don’t want any airborne pathogens floating around. The transfer of raw sewage from (septic pump-out) trucks would knock you over. They’re hauling it out of there still steaming.”

He’s puzzled why provincial regulations only govern CCI’s soil-composting plant that creates relatively little odour, compared to what regional agents say is a far more pungent stench from the septage-truck operation.

“We should be co-generating electricity out of the sewage sludge,” said Hayhoe, owner of nearby Speed Sincher Inc.

That sludge — including fish, food and others wastes — is shipped to Langford’s Septage Processing Ltd. It’s treated, dewatered then shipped back, in cake form, to CCI where it’s mixed with wood waste to make soil for sale.

But local watchdog Tammy Morris is dubious about CCI’s soil product.

“I want to know what constitutes wood waste, and where it comes from. Anything coming out of that pulp mill could be called wood waste.”

Meanwhile, Geoff Hinks, chairman of the Chemainus Business Improvement Association, signaled locals want action.

“(Site) owners realize the problem’s not going away. He admitted the stink rarely reaches downtown, but “people are concerned because (the problem) is still in Chemainus.”

“It’s not good to disturb your neighbours.”

Protester Andy Wiersma said the composting and septage hauling businesses are “totally in the wrong area.”

Former mayor Jon Lefebure — who ran North Cowichan council before the offending businesses opened — explained zoning regulations for places such as the industrial park have no sense of smell.

“Zoning typically doesn’t anticipate everything that’ll happen in the future. “I think it’s the septage transfer we’re smelling.”

A $3,000 regional odour-and-leachate audit by microbiologist John Paul is due soon. Its findings won’t cover the septage-truck business as neither the Cowichan Valley Regional District, nor the environment ministry regulates its discharges, CVRD staff said.