News / Vancouver

Compost facility in Richmond creates stinky situation

As Metro Vancouver sows its plan to ban food scraps from landfills by 2015, more and more Richmond residents near the region's main composting facility have been raising a stink.

A spokeswoman for Harvest Power, the company that owns the Richmond Composting Facility, said there have been 103 complaints traced back to the plant this year.

"The volume of materials coming in has increased more quickly than we anticipated," she said, speaking on behalf of Harvest's regional vice-president, Jeff Leech.

"We need to work together with the region to increase the capacity to handle these materials."

The company is taking a number of steps to assess and reduce the odours wafting off people's food scraps, including increasing and upgrading its biofilter capacity, which is overloaded, according to Metro Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver environment enforcement manager Ray Robb likened a biofilter to a giant swimming pool full of lava rocks. Noxious air from the composters is piped in and then digested by billions of microbes living on the rocks or wood chips.

"We know that a biofilter, when properly designed, can remove about 90 per cent of the odour," Robb said.

Harvest is in the process of doing an "odour audit" to measure exactly how much and how the strong the odour sources are so it can determine how much additional biofilter capacity is needed.

Metro Vancouver has asked it to enclose the outdoor area where compost is currently shaken and screened.

The company says an enclosed anaerobic digester for fresh food scraps that opened two weeks ago will also help cut smells significantly.

Harvest Power has created a dedicated hotline for complaints about odours and any other concerns residents have, at 604-836-8387.

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