Update: Hamilton landfill odour complaints force operator to take action

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Published August 29, 2023 at 12:36 pm

landfill odours Hamilton GFL environmental environment garbage
COURTESY OF GFL ENVIRONMENTAL

The Ontario operator of a landfill in Hamilton has deployed odour-neutralizing systems and the environment ministry is monitoring air quality as part of efforts to tackle the potent smells coming from a Stoney Creek facility.

Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Air Monitoring told Green For Life (GFL) Environmental to submit a detailed action plan outlining measures addressing complaints from residents about the Vaughan, Ont., company’s Taro dump.

“Odours were confirmed offsite and are being attributed to the leachate pumping and treatment system,” said Jennifer Hall, Ministry of Environment spokesperson, in an email to inthehammer.com today (Aug. 29). “The current odour issues are being attributed to the leachate generated at the site and the on-site pond that stores treated leachate before it is discharged to municipal sanitary sewers.”

To comply with requirements, GFL has installed a new odour treatment control system at its leachate pump station, Hall said. In addition, GFL is ensuring that any exposed leachate on-site is treated to eliminate the odours.

GFL is also accelerating its plan to move its leachate treatment system into an indoor facility, Hall added, which is expected to significantly reduce the potential to generate odours.

Environment ministry says odours ‘are unacceptable’

“The Ministry agrees that the odours currently being experienced by local residents are unacceptable, and the ministry continues to ensure GFL is working to manage odour impacts from the landfill.”

In response to complaints received late Monday evening, she said the ministry’s after-hours response officer went to the site and neighbourhood to “assess the odours and ensure GFL was implementing actions to mitigate odours.”

Hall said the ministry’s environmental officers continue to visit the GFL Stoney Creek landfill site and surrounding areas daily in response to the odour complaints.

Hall said GFL’s Stoney Creek Regional Facility landfill has historically operated with “limited odours issues.”

In response to inthehammer.com‘s request for more details, GFL said it has “no comment at this time.”

COURTESY OF GFL ENVIRONMENTAL

COURTESY OF GFL ENVIRONMENTAL

Landfill company proposes biofilters as part of solution

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s medical officer of health, provided a written communication update to the mayor and board of health members on Aug. 22.  Dr. Richardson was responding to council’s motion, which was ratified on Aug. 18, asking public health staff to write a letter to the ministry requesting that air monitoring be conducted to determine the odour emanating from the GFL Environmental landfill site in Ward 9 and the results be shared with the community.

In her update, Dr. Richardson said a letter was not necessary since she discovered that the province had already ordered GFL to take action on the odour problem.

GFL’s plan includes deploying an odour neutralizing misting system at the site, trucking leachate off-site for disposal and treating any exposed leachate, according to Dr. Richardson.

As part of the long-term plan, GFL proposed a wood biofilter odour treatment control system at the interim leachate pump station at the southeast corner of the Stoney Creek Regional Facility. 

Environment ministry conducts air monitoring of areas around dump

Ontario’s environment ministry has also begun air monitoring around the landfill in response to residents’ complaints and concerns about potential contaminants and impacts from the odour.

Initial results have not indicated any elevated concentrations,” according to Hall. “Additional air monitoring campaigns are being planned for the coming weeks.”

The ministry’s air quality analysts will review the data and compare regulatory air quality guidelines and limits, Dr. Richardson said. The ministry will then determine if further actions are necessary based on the results and update the community.

“Public Health Services has requested that the Ministry publicly share all the air quality data gathered from the above air monitoring,” Dr. Richardson wrote.

Hall said residents with concerns about the odour can contact the ministry’s Hamilton District Office at 905-521-7650 during normal business hours, the Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS (663-8477), 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or online at gov.on.ca. The ministry is also encouraging residents to contact GFL directly 24/7 at 1-800-567-7455 to report odours.

“GFL has staff available 24/7 to respond immediately to odour complaints, make assessments and take actions to mitigate odours,” she said.

GFL is also posting updates on the corrective actions it is taking on their Community Liaison Committee’s website www.gflclc.org 

GFL, which describes itself as a major diversified environmental services company, provides services in solid waste management, liquid waste management and soil remediation in North America.

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