Guelph’s new compost plant failure revealed

Mayor Farbridge’s green dream is in trouble after two months of opening the new compost plant. The first effort took ten years to decay. This plant sets a new standard in fiscal irresponsibility

At a meeting held Tuesday night, November 29, city staff was unable to explain why the new $32 million compost plant was stinking up the neighbourhood. It appears that a vital heater to eliminate the odour problem was never installed in the fume stack.

Neighbours attending the meeting were annoyed to hear that the three city staffers were not aware of the cause of the odour problem. Janet Laird, Executive Director of engineering and environmental services, left the staffers out of the loop. Was this oversight deliberate?

According to my source, Laird was aware the equipment had not been installed and that modeling had indicated that the heater would facilitate the dispersion of the gases causing the odors. But she did not tell her subordinates who were sent to offer the angry citizens a phony story about Cargill processing operation causing the smells.

Cargill’s environmental support person attended the meeting and indicated that the company never had a complaint in the 25 years it has operated in this area. The company was annoyed that once again the city news releases attempted to blame local industry in this area. She assured the residents that Cargill takes the odor issue very seriously and requested that residents contact her directly with any odor concerns.

It was interesting to see who did not attend the meeting including Director Laird, nor a representative of the contractor nor the plant operator. The two ward councillors were attending a council meeting held the same night but their regrets were noted.

A representative of the Ministry of Environment identified some unusual behavior with the gases at the top of the stack. It is evident that the exhaust from the stack was heavier than the air at the top of the stack and this accounted for the unusual behavior of the exhaust gases. There appears to need the heater in the stack to disperse the odour to higher altitudes so as not to affect neighbourhoods.

What a schmozzle! It is beyond belief that the city administration, paid a $40,000 fine in 2007 over compost odours in the previous plant, has spent $32 million on a plant that has worse defects than the previous one.

The one person who managed this debacle is Janet Laird, the long time boss of waste management.

Now some residents in this area are seriously considering launching a class action lawsuit against the city and the developer for failing to solve the odour problem. Just what the city needs – another lawsuit!

Perhaps that may clear the air of the odour of secrecy and mismanagement that is the basis of this situation. (pun intended)

Mayor Farbridge it’s time for you to step up to the plate and clean this mess up.

You know what you have to do.

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