Seaweed fertilizer creates big stink

People in the western P.E.I. town of Alberton are upset about the stench coming off a farm field fertilized with seaweed.
Marie Gavin and Eileen Kinch of Alberton have limited the amount of time they spend outside since the stink first started rising from the seaweed fertilizer. (CBC)

People in the western P.E.I. town of Alberton are upset about the stench coming off a farm field fertilized with seaweed.

Locals say seaweed isn't just smelly, it's also attracting flies.

The Environment Department suggested the company be asked to plow the field under. (CBC)

"This is supposed to be seaweed, but it does not smell anything like that," said Marie Gavin.

"It's almost a toxic and ammonia smell. It's very, very strong."

Since early September, Gavin and her friend Eileen Kinch have limited the amount of time they spend outdoors. A field owned by Westech Agri Services is using seaweed as an organic fertilizer. The company owner didn't want to comment but told CBC News it is following proper farm practice.

Kinch is worried the company will continue its practice.

"It gets into your home, it gets into your clothes," she said.

"it's just very uncomfortable to live here. And I don't think that's fair."

The town called in the provincial Environment Department. Land management manager Greg Wilson said, generally speaking, the department encourages the use of organic fertilizers.

The Environment Department is looking for major environmental contamination, says Greg Wilson. (CBC)

"Any kind of organic waste, like lobster bodies or mussel waste or seaweed, is encouraged because it's a natural organic product," said Wilson.

"It's going to be considered as a waste and would be have to be dealt with another way."

Wilson said he suggested the town ask the company to plow the field under.

"What we're looking for is any kind of a major environmental contamination," he said.

"In most cases, where you have lobster bodies, or if you have seaweed, you don't have that. But what you do have is you have nuisance odours and you have fly problems."

Wilson said Alberton council could introduce a bylaw to deal with odour coming from farms within the town limits.

Mayor Michael Murphy said he's heard lots of complaints, and council will look at coming up with some sort of policy to deal with the problem by next year.


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