Windsor·Audio

Sarnia residents raising a stink about foul odour

An intense odour has been sweeping across Sarnia for the past several weeks, but according to the company that has taken responsibility, relief is on the way.

Waste management company apologizes, says action underway to reduce smell

For weeks, some Sarnia residents have been dealing with a smell that one resident describes as manure like. (City of Sarnia/Facebook)

An intense odour has been sweeping across Sarnia, Ont., for the past several weeks, but according to the company that has taken responsibility for the smell, relief is on the way.

When he first got a whiff of it, south Sarnia resident Andrew Grant assumed it was a farmer fertilizing their fields, and  the stench would be short lived. That was five or six weeks ago and he's still smelling it.

"If there's a south wind blowing, the windows aren't open," he said on CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive.

For weeks, Sarnia residents have been dealing with a strong odor, with hundreds of complaints issued to date. Guest host Julianne Hazlewood speaks to Sarnia resident Andrew Grant to learn more, plus Afternoon Drive's Josiah Sinanan gets an official statement from Vice President Hank VanVeen of Wessuc Inc., the company responsible.

Grant said that to him it smells like manure — and he's not far off.

The odour has been traced back to Wessuc Inc.'s lagoons on Scott Road, where what's known as non-agricultural source material — organic material that is ultimately destined for beneficial use on agricultural land — is stored and then removed when needed.

At the site, two types of material have been brought in, one of which is processed sewage. The other is spent corn syrup, according to the waste treatment and storage company.

Acknowledging complaints received about the smell, Wessuc apologized in a recent letter and explained the steps its taking to cut down on the odour.

"We do not take these complaints lightly and apologize for odours caused by our operations," the letter stated.

Those actions include removing 11,000 cubic metres of material, covering the lagoon surface with straw to absorb odour, and treating the lagoon with a solution to deodorize it.

Two air monitoring stations have been set up, and new unloading equipment that will help mitigate odour is on the way, the company said. 

"We did not anticipate the odour issues that are ongoing at the moment," Hank VanVeen, the company's vice president, said in an interview with Afternoon Drive.

Wessuc is also working with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to manage the issue. In a statement, a spokesperson confirmed the ministry has received complaints.

"The ministry has been in regular contact with Wessuc Inc., who manages the site and had requested they reach out to the community to explain their operation and actions they are taking to address the residents' odour concerns," the spokesperson said.

The ministry conducted an inspection on Sunday and confirmed that odours were present. They also met with the company to gather information on their operations and actions to address the odours.

Reacting to the company's statement and apology, Grant said time will tell.

"If it goes away, if they can fix it, great," he said. 

with files from Afternoon Drive

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