West Edmonton compost facility given cancellation notice by the province for lingering odour issues

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A west Edmonton composting site will have its registration cancelled by the Alberta government 15 months from now in response to lingering odour issues.

The province issued a cancellation notice Thursday afternoon to Cleanit Greenit Compositng System Inc. in the Winterburn Industrial Area that will come into effect June 30, 2022. Cleanit Greenit has been the subject of several odour concerns in northwest Edmonton communities of Trumpeter, Hawks Ridge and Starling. In a Thursday afternoon statement, Alberta Environment and Parks said inspections of the facility found ongoing issues related to odour and contaminants found in groundwater.

“Following detailed inspections of the facility, Alberta Environment and Parks has identified ongoing and persistent issues related to air, land and water. These include odour concerns and contaminants found in groundwater,” the statement said. “Alberta Environment and Parks has determined it requires a more suitable tool to better regulate this complex facility instead of its current registration under the Code of Practice.”

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Cleanit Greenit currently operates under a registration, meaning the facility must comply with Alberta’s Code of Practice for Composting Facilities. This Code of Practice requires facilities to manage site runoff, implement measures to control odours, litter and pathogens, and meet groundwater performance standards, the province said. If the facility wants to operate past the cancellation date, the province said there are several options which include applying for a new authorization under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

“For any application, Alberta Environment and Parks considers public input, and can also establish operating conditions tailored to the facility that ensure environmental objectives for waste management are met while addressing potential environmental and community impacts,” the province said.

The province has been working with Cleanit Greenit for more than a decade to help bring the facility into compliance with regulations and issued an enforcement order in 2011 that remains in force as not all requirements have been met. In the last five years, the province received more than 800 calls with complaints about unpleasant odours from the site.

In February, the City of Edmonton launched a court battle against the operation, seeking an injunction to curb the odour concerns. Between Feb. 21 and Dec. 9 of last year, the city received 300 complaints from residents about two to four kilometres away identifying the composting site as the cause of odour. Complainants have compared the smell to sour garbage, rotting food or hot sewage.

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Speaking to Postmedia in February, Cleanit Greenit CEO Kirstin Castro-Wunsch said the company takes the concerns of the communities seriously and has worked to improve by hiring its own odour patrollers to investigate smells. She argued that the composting site is not the source of all the odours in the area, noting that a 2020 report conducted by the company found 13 cases of odour in residential neighbourhoods out of 208 investigations.

The composting site has been operating since 1998 and diverts 20,000 tonnes of organic waste from the landfill each year. In December, Cleanit Greenit paid a $4,000 fine for 14 of the 33 tickets issued by the city since June 2019.



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