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Richmond's compost waste stinking up Delta

Richmond’s mayor is downplaying the impact Richmond may be having on increased odour complaints in Ladner.
Organic waste
Organic waste

Richmond’s mayor is downplaying the impact Richmond may be having on increased odour complaints in Ladner.

Since March, the City of Richmond has been diverting its multi-family home organic waste from Harvest Power in east Richmond to Delta-based Enviro-Smart Organics. 

And since about that time, Delta residents have increasingly become disturbed by foul composting odours, much like their Richmond neighbours.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie said he’s been told by Metro Vancouver and city officials alike that Richmond’s multi-family waste is “clean,” meaning it has limited contamination and much of the meat scraps are mixed with yard waste for aeration to mitigate odours.

Enviro-Smart Organics and its new owners, Green for Life Environmental (GFL), were on the hot seat last Wednesday, at a public meeting, as angry residents vented their frustrations with the constant compost odours — known to cause Richmond residents headaches — that are coming from the facility.

It comes as no surprise to Coun. Harold Steves. “I’m not surprised at all. I would expect it,” said Steves.

“They’ve increased the amount of material going to Delta and now they have an odour problem, too.” 

The public meeting, attended by more than 200 people at the Delta Town and Country Inn, was part of Enviro-Smart’s air quality permit application that Metro Vancouver urged the company to apply for in the summer, following an uptick in resident complaints.

The meeting mirrored a public forum held by Harvest Power last December.

Right off the bat, GFL officials were on the defensive as they tried to explain the cause of the odours and how to rectify them.

“I want to apologize for the odours that in fact our facilities have generated and the inconvenience that has caused any of you as far as those odours are concerned,” said Brian King, director of operations for composting operations at GFL. 

Steves said he believes the source of odours is meat and the fact both Harvest and Enviro-Smart are open-air facilities.

“Composting food works everywhere else but here. Harvest and Enviro haven’t put money into inside containment. The whole system has grown too fast,” said Steves, who supported residential composting but said he opposed Metro Vancouver’s decision to allow meat products in food scraps.

“That’s where we’ve gone wrong,” said Steves.

Brodie said it is imperative to find the right technology to handle the waste (a new closed-containment facility opened in Surrey).

Whereas Richmond has seen a grassroots group (Stop the Stink Richmond) to “stop the stink,” Delta has also seen the recent formation of an analogous group — Ladner Anti Foul Odour Group (LAFOP).

“There is so much pent up frustration and anger and disappointment in this community for Enviro-Smart, for Metro Vancouver, for Delta,” said Robert Skinner of LAFOP.

­— With files from the Delta Optimist