February 21, 2005

Stricter guidelines will control odours from biosolids land application in NS

Inglewood Farms in Truro, Nova Scotia will have to follow strict new guidelines addressing community concerns about odour when it begins storing and spreading industrial waste from the nearby Maple Leaf rendering plant. The guidelines are part of a decision announced earlier this month by provincial Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash on an appeal made jointly by Inglewood Farms and Maple Leaf Foods last October.

The two parties initiated their appeal after the department suspended an approval for the farm to store and spread municipal biosolids last September. In the appeal, Maple Leaf and Inglewood laid out a process they believe will address concerns about odour which led to the suspension.

Under the new plan, Inglewood will no longer accept any municipal waste; it will implement a new direct-to-surface application method; and it will not apply material on weekends or during the summer months. Maple Leaf will install a number of groundwater monitoring wells in key locations, and will hire an environmental co-ordinator to help Inglewood Farms with odour control. The Department of Environment and Labour will make the odour control strategy part of the terms and conditions of the approval and will monitor it closely to ensure compliance.

"I'm pleased with the steps the company has proposed. They're reasonable and will allow the activity to continue in a manner that will meet our guidelines and the terms and conditions of its approval, including odour control," Morash said, adding that "this is a safe practice that works well in other places, and can work properly here, too."

He further noted that the department will remove the biosolid material currently being stored in the lagoons on Inglewood Farms, to ensure that no stabilization takes place on the property. It was this process that prompted many of the odour complaints in the past. Environment and Labour has contracted Atlantic Industrial Services to remove and dispose of the material; the job should take about four weeks. "Since we no longer allow the company to process municipal waste, we believe the right thing to do is to have the material removed ourselves," said Morash.

The department's new Guidelines for Storage and Land Application of Biosolids, approved last May, no longer allow material to be stabilized on site. The biosolids material being removed from Inglewood Farms was received in November 2003, before the guidelines were revised. Inglewood will be allowed to begin accepting material from Maple Leaf as soon as the biosolids mixture currently in the lagoons has been removed. No land application is allowed in the province until the spring.

Public awareness and education is an important component of the province's biosolids management strategy. "That's why we required Maple Leaf to consult on this plan. And that's why I will be convening a science forum, where experts will be invited -- by us and by other stakeholders -- to discuss the science on biosolids and their application," Morash added.

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