An indictment of mis-management at the Dunlop Drive waste centre

Posted August 13, 2015

There’s trouble in garbage land as eight workers are sent to hospital.

Wednesday morning, police, fire and paramedics responded to a dangerous odour threat at the city recycling plant on Dunlop Drive.

The plant was immediately shut down as investigators sought to locate the cause of the odour that created burning eyes and difficulty breathing by some of the workers. Eight workers were sent to hospital.

This comes on the heels of several odour reports by citizens living near the plant in the past 45 days. These reports were documented and reported to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).

On July 9, the Ministry official in charge of the Guelph district office, David Noll, sent a letter to waste management General Manager, Dean Wyman. It ordered several remedial steps to be taken by the end of July.

These include: “By July 31, remove all co-mingled recyclables from the old composting facility.”

“By July 17, remove all processed co-mingled recyclables from the outside storage area located on the west side of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and process accordingly.”

“By July 17, as part of any future odour complaint response conducted by the City of Guelph, all staff are physically to go inside the Organic Waste Processing Facility (OWPF) and check the system for any up-set conditions of potential sources of odour and document accordingly”

The MOECC further ordered that employees enter, unblock and power wash the two catch basins located in the leaf and yard waste area and remove all remaining yard waste. The order also demanded that the monthly work plan be devised to clean out the leaf and yard waste catch basins.

The city was told to provide maintenance/documents with dates and times, for the repair of the tipping floor of the Materials Recovery Facility, the two equipment failure incidents of the conveyor belt system, compactor repairs at the transfer station plus any other equipment failures in the past three months.

The biggest MOECC order was telling the city to immediately cease using the OWPF for any future storage of recyclables or organic waste as such action was in non-compliance with the MOECC order approving the operation of the plant.

Also the city was ordered to immediately cease storing of unprocessed co-mingled recyclables at the Materials Recovery Facility.

This was an accident waiting to happen. The processing of recyclables from Detroit may have overwhelmed the materials recovery facility.

It also indicates sloppy supervision and maintenance of the $110 million Waste Resources Innovation Centre (WRIC) that was the environmental crown jewel of the former Farbridge regime.

It was the ego-driven mayor who used public money to over-build an organic waste management facility that required garbage from other communities to feed this Taj Mahal of wretched environmental excess.

There is a serious waste management problem and it will take more money and talent to make it work. We are in this mess because of the secrecy of operations that has surrounded this attempt to turn Guelph into a “world class” waste management success story.

These serious lapses in managing potentially toxic materials is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to protecting the citizens from hazardous materials in open storage.

There are no checks and balances in the decision to run this operation. With this intervention of the MOECC, perhaps the public interests may finally be served. The public has no access to the operational costs, capital spending or the tangible benefits to the taxpayers who put up the money.

The one certain thing is the current waste management operation needs a thorough housecleaning by city council. Hopefully the public will be better informed and feel safer in their homes.

Hey! Haven’t we been through this before? Remember in 2006, the closing down of the organic waste plant by the province that resulted in the firing of the manager?

As that great Yankee philosopher, Yogi Berra said: “It’s deja vu all over again.”

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3 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

3 responses to “An indictment of mis-management at the Dunlop Drive waste centre

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    It would be interesting to see if a “root cause analysis” of the source of the dangerous odor is carried out to determine from where the offending material came. Was the Detroit recyclable stream the culprit?
    The number of items listed as being ordered by the MOECC raises a question of due diligence on part of the facility management.

  2. geo

    Remember the outrage Guelph shipping its garbage by truck to an outside landfill caused. This practise was used as justification to build the Dunlop facility.
    Fast-forward to 2015 and we find that Detroit trucks its garbage to Guelph while Guelph trucks its garbage to Detroit.
    Keeping in mind that Detroit burns our garbage in an antiquated incinerator could someone please explain to me how this arrangement benefits the environment.

  3. DAVID BIRTWISTLE

    Let’s hope that the employees that were sent to hospital have not suffered any long term medical problems and have recovered.I wonder what safety precautions are available to employees working in a potentially dangerous environment.Were the residents and industrial facilities in areas abutting the WRIC warned of the “…dangerous odour threat… and what remedial action(s) they should take?

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