A Kitchener company has been fined $140,000 for releasing an odour into the air that neighbours said gave them headaches and made them nauseous.

Quantex Technologies Inc., located at 260 Shoemaker St., is an environmental waste management company. It treats oily waste and hazardous materials from oil refining, metalworking and plating industries.

On Sept. 26, 2012, the company received a shipment of 33,000 litres of waste which tested as septic, the Ministry of the Environment said in a release Monday. On Sept. 28, an odour was released when staff at Quantex moved the waste from one tank to another.

"During the transfer, the lid of one tank was open and air escaped the facility doors because they were open. So those doors should have been closed," said Lindsay Davidson, a spokesman with the ministry.

Neighbours felt sick

Staff at a neighbouring business called Quantex to complain about the smell and said employees were experiencing headaches, nausea and flu-like symptoms. That neighbouring business also contacted the Kitchener Fire Department and the ministry to report the odour.

Quantex staff stopped the transfer of the waste and started to take steps to minimize the odour after receiving the complaint, the ministry said.

On Friday, Quantex Technologies was fined $140,000, plus a $35,000 victim surcharge, for discharging a contaminant into the environment. The company has one year to pay the fine.