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    Categories: Local News

No smell fix in Morinville until spring, says Champion

Morinville residents will have to put up with the smell of dog food well into next year now that a new study has found more problems at the Champion Petfoods plant.

Town council asked the plant to deal with the greasy smells wafting from its plant back in 2009. After a $500,000 plasma injection system failed to solve the problem, plant staff planned to add new scrubbers to their air vents to filter out the stink. Those scrubbers were supposed to be installed last July, but were delayed until November after a consultant advised the plant to take additional smell control steps first.

Now those scrubbers won’t go in until next spring. Company president Frank Burdzy released a statement Thursday saying that the aforementioned consultant had recently found more steps for the plant to take before it could properly design the scrubbers.

“It’s been a long haul for all of us,” Burdzy said, and he could appreciate the frustration this delay would cause. “We are trying to get the best solution for the long run.”

Champion asked Holland’s Blauw Air Hygiene Research & Consultancy to inspect its Morinville plant this summer to try to stop the smell of cooking meat from leaking out of the plant. While the plant has made considerable progress on most of its recommendations, a re-inspection in October found additional changes were needed if the scrubbers were to work without constant adjustment.

The company’s original target of November was based on the hope that they could make the changes and build the scrubbers at the same time. “The advice was to do it in sequence,” he said, — fix first, build later.

Plant workers now cook their meat at a lower temperature so it smells less, Burdzy says, and are almost finished adding new walls to the plant to create pressure zones for improved ventilation. Bigger fans will follow in December, followed by bigger stacks, the latter of which won’t be installed until the spring due to icy roof conditions.

The consultant has also recommended that the plant plug any air leaks in its dryers, Burdzy says, which means inspecting all its internal parts. “It’s almost going joint by joint, location by location, making sure everything is sealed properly.”

These, plus the other recommended changes, are projected to prevent about 80 per cent of the plant’s odour emissions, Burdzy said in Thursday’s statement. The changes will cost about $3 million.

Town Mayor Lloyd Bertschi said he was very disappointed by the news, noting that the plant has had more than a year to work on the smell. The town has been lenient until now, he noted, but does have the option of fining the plant under the community standards bylaw. “Perhaps it’s time for the gloves to come off.”

Any smell questions should go to Champion’s hotline at 1-855-784-0340.

Kevin Ma: Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.