Big fine for odour despite earnest efforts by compost company

by Jackie Campbell on March 19, 2013

Universal Resource Recovery Inc. pleaded guilty to 2 counts of discharging odours into the environment and was fined $80,000 for each count (total $160,000 + 25% victim fine surcharge, = $200,000). 

The Welland company’s composting facility was located in an area zoned for mixed residential and industrial land uses.  It received organic food waste from municipal green bin programs, and began to have difficulty controlling odours soon after the facility opened in 2008.

The guilty pleas were for odour discharges on three days in each of 2010 and 2011, which caused discomfort to neighbours and loss of enjoyment of their normal use of property.  On several occasions, the facility had received over the 200 tonne per day limit for food, leaf, yard and wet waste set out in its Waste Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA), and had failed to notify the MOE of the waste exceedences or why these had occurred.  It had also breached a provincial officer’s order issued to address ongoing odour emissions, which restricted the amount of waste received at the site to 100 tonnes per day.

The company tried hard to address the odours, including being responsive to odour complaints (staff frequently responded in person), holding community meetings and conducting proactive odour checks.  It also worked closely with the MOE.

Despite these efforts, the company voluntarily shut down operations for 5 months during 2010 and then permanently in 2011.  By the time it recommenced operations after the 2010 shutdown, the company had invested $35 million in capital expenditures on the facility.

By Jackie Campbell and Dianne Saxe

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