Composting facility fined $900,000 plus victim fine surcharges for discharging odour

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On October 26, 2017, Orgaworld Canada Ltd. was convicted of nine offences under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), was fined $900,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $225,000, and was given three months to pay.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) said the convictions involve two separate investigations and address all incidents involving the discharge of odours from the London, Ontario Orgaworld facility that caused an adverse effect in violation of s. 14 of the EPA for the entire period from July 2014 up to and including October 10, 2017.

Orgaworld owns and operates a composting facility located on Wellington Road South in London. According to the company’s website, the facility has a permitted capacity of 150,000 tons of organic waste per year and handles waste from St. Thomas, Toronto and York Region.

To limit odour emissions, Orgaworld said the plant is kept under negative air pressure. The odour control system uses dual ammonia scrubbers, an air cooling heat exchanger system, a bio-scrubber and bio-filters. Air emissions from the facility are discharged into the natural environment via a stack that extends 60 metres above grade, according to the MOECC.

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How Orgaworld’s London facility works

According to the MOECC there was a discharge of a foul odour from the London Orgaworld facility on the following dates: July 25, 2014, April 17, 2015, April 26, 2015, July 30, 2015, May 31, 2017, June 23, 2017, July 12, 2017, and July 27, 2017. Foul odour adversely affected individuals on Dingman Drive, Westminster Drive and Wellington Road South in London, who lost enjoyment of the normal use of their properties, said the ministry.

In one case, the MOECC said the discharge affected a Wellington Road South resident who experienced material discomfort as the odour affected his ability to breathe when he was outside. In another case, the discharge adversely affected a Wellington Road bicycle business and a driving range, by interfering with the normal conduct of business.

The MOECC said the incidents were referred to its Investigations and Enforcement branch, resulting in charges and nine convictions. The ministry also said it is is taking strong actions aimed at reducing Orgaworld’s odour emissions, including issuing an order that is currently requiring the company to operate at only 30% of its capacity. It also said tracking and response to odour complaints is being improved, due to public interest and the concentration of industrial and manufacturing facilities located in South London.

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