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Compost plant unfairly targetted?

Dan Lazaro wants to clear the air about what some Chemainiacs claim is a stench from his Chemainus Composting Inc. plant in Mural Town’s industrial park.

He said odour is virtually nil from CCI’s 1.5-acre mostly indoor facility.

Instead, it seems neigbourhood concerns may be better directed at a septic wastewater transfer facility next door.

“That’s the most vile, putrid smell I’ve ever encountered,” said Cowichan Valley Regional District environment manager Bob McDonald, after a site visit.

“If I worked across the street and caught a whiff of that — it’s beyond acceptable.

“Unfortunately, the sewage transfer operation is not regulated by the environment ministry or the CVRD.”

Lazaro is also general manager of Coast Environmental Inc, which stores port-a-potties near the transfer site. Coast is one of a half-dozen haulers that use the facility to offload septic and other offal, but it is a separate operation.

“That wastewater transfer station has nothing to do with CCI,” he stressed.

“That’s part of the confusion. People are attacking our composting facility (CCI), but the property owners didn’t want to be bad neighbours either.”

In fact the landlord, acting on complaints, ordered the stink snuffed by owners of the septic pump-out facility, Lazaro said.

All haulers helped fund transfer-facility odour fixes including a gravity-unloading platform that produces less odour, he said. Tank venting and a biofilters for tank and truck exhaust were also installed.

Lazaro signaled CCI has been unfairly blamed for odour on the 45-acre industrial site.

CCI turns a dewatered sludge of treated septic, food and other wastes into soil-like compost.

“We’ve tested the air quality in the building and there are absolutely no odour issues,” he said.

McDonald is awaiting results of a regional odour and leachate audit, but indicated his visit seemed to support Lazaro’s contention.

“The strongest odour from CCI was from its outdoor, finished materials,” he said. “Inside, there was a heavy, musty smell.”

CCI has applied to the CVRD to expand its operation, leading to health fears that are expected to be voiced during Saturday’s protest at the nearby TCH/MacMillan-Bloedel Haul Road intersection.

“I think some of those health concerns have been overstated, and a public meeting could put those to rest,” McDonald said.

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