Coast cleared in majority of Chemainus stink complaints

Survey says: Operation the stench source on Smiley Road, but most offensive odours coming from farms and other operations

Most of the chronic manure-style stench in and around Chemainus is not wafting from Coast Environmental Ltd.,

Though the sewage agency is responsible for issues in its immediate neighbourhood, other complaints are being caused by nearby farms and other sources, a fresh study shows.

A press release from Rob Hutchins, Cowichan Valley Regional District chairman, says odour complaints from residents and businesses were traced by SENES Consultants, hired by the CVRD in partnership with North Cowichan taxpayers.

SENES’ job was to measure the magnitude, and possible source, of the reek reported in Chemainus, and in Chemainus’ industrial park.

“Odour complaints have originated from two main areas of the community;” Hutchins says, “from businesses (owners and staff) on Smiley Road in the Chemainus industrial park, and from residents living in the community of Chemainus.

“In most cases, complainants have assumed Coast Environmental Ltd.’s operations are the source of the odours.”

There is no standard definition in B.C. of what constitutes a nuisance odour.

However, the World Health Organization defines a nuisance-threshold level — when more than 5% of the population experiences annoyance for more than 2% of the time — was used as a benchmark, as recommended by SENES.

An eight-week odour survey occurred in May and June 2014, says Hutchins.

Findings show odours classified predominantly as ‘offensive’ were observed in five areas in Chemainus, according to the following frequencies: at River Road up to 46% of the time (expected source – agricultural); at MacMillan Bloedel Forest Service Road up to 6.7% of the time (expected source – industrial); along Smiley Road up to 4.9% of the time (expected source – Coast); in the community of Chemainus, between the ferry terminal and Old Victoria Road up to 3.7% of the time (expected source – agricultural); and, on Bare Point Road up to 2.4% of the time (expected source – Chemainus wastewater treatment plant).

“The report concluded the majority of odours observed along Smiley Road originate from Coast.

“In addition to the predominantly ‘offensive’ odours that occurred up to 4.9% of the time, intense short-term odours typically lasting up to 30 seconds were observed on 10 occasions. Overall, the majority of odours were largely recorded as ‘barely noticeable’ or ‘noticeable’ along Smiley Road,” he says.

SENES determined odours in the community of Chemainus did not come from Coast.

“Instead, odour complaints and odour observations in these areas appear to be related to nearby farm activities,” reports Hutchins.

Based on SENES’ findings, the CVRD and council have asked Coast to voluntarily work to reduce the frequency of nuisance odours detectable beyond their property boundary.

“Coast has expressed its commitment to continue to reduce odours from its onsite operations and have planned, with assistance of two independent experts, a number of improvements to its facility operations, including amendments to the composting process, ventilation and biofilter systems, and the waste-water pump-out system,” says Hutchins.

All system upgrades are expected to be in place by September’s end.

Still, Mayor Jon Lefebure cautioned those fixes may not totally sink the stink.

“It is unlikely operations in industrial areas will manage to completely eliminate odours at all times, however, working further to reduce odour impact on neighbouring businesses in the industrial park is a reasonable request.”

The odour survey report is available here.

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