A June 2018 photo of one of two storage facilities holding manure at an Abbotsford property currently under the microscope of regulators for alleged non-compliance issues. B.C. Ministry of Environment photo

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Manure company causing ‘toxic’ stink at Abbotsford school seeks permit

Property across from King Traditional Elementary cannot operate manure facility without permit

A property causing a “toxic” stink that often wafts across Bradner Road and onto the grounds of King Traditional Elementary School would get official approval if a permit application succeeds.

The rural southwest Abbotsford property used by a business called 93 Land Company to store and resell manure for fertilizer has caused concerns for staff and parents of King Traditional students, who have reported experiencing the smell for nearly two years now. According to a November school board report, the stink spurred 15 WorkSafeBC claims.

“It’s just toxic. You feel gross, you get a headache and you feel sick to your stomach,” parent Shannon Gaudette said last November.

RELATED: Stink at Abbotsford school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

RELATED: Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

The Abbotsford News obtained environmental compliance reports, dated October 2017, February 2018 and August 2018, from the B.C. Ministry of Environment through a freedom-of-information request. Those documents outline various areas in which the property was not in compliance with B.C.’s Agricultural Waste Control Regulation.

In each inspection, the property was found to be breaching section 4 of the regulation, which states manure “may be stored on a farm only if the waste is produced or used on that farm.”

“The Business stores agricultural waste received from multiple other local farms. The agricultural waste is stored at the Business for an unknown time period until it is transported off-site for application as a fertilizer,” a August 2018 report states.

“The agricultural waste is not produced or used on the farm, therefore the Business is out of compliance with this requirement.”

That came 10 months after the original report, in which the author stated “93 Land Company must immediately cease the unauthorized introduction of waste” until the facility is in compliance with regulations.

In a statement, the Ministry of Environment said that to continue operating, the facility must obtain a waste discharge permit under the Environmental Management Act.

They said a preliminary application for a waste discharge permit for a manure storage facility at the site had been received in November. Ministry spokesperson David Karn said the ministry is scheduling a pre-application meeting with the applicant.

At that meeting, the ministry will provide the applicant with requirements for the final application.

“For this type of facility, required information would typically include an Operating Plan, Odour Management Plan, Leachate Management Plan as well as supporting information to ensure human health and the surrounding environment will not be impacted by the operation,” the ministry said. “Public Notification and First Nation Consultation will also be required for this application.”

After the completion of those steps, the ministry will decide whether to approve the application.

The documents suggest non-compliance at the location appears to have gotten worse since the property came to the attention of the ministry. In October 2017, an inspection of the property found the site breached two sections of the regulation. Inspections the following year found non-compliance with three sections and undetermined compliance status for two sections of the regulation.

Karn said the site was inspected again in November and was found to have been operating without proper authorization, adding that a decision is expected “shortly” from the ministry on its response to non-compliance.

According to the ministry’s policies, those found to be non-compliant may be subject to advisories, warnings, administrative sanctions (such as suspension or cancellation of licences) or administrative penalties amounting to no more than $75,000.

The framework emphasizes escalating penalties in matters of continued non-compliance.

The News reached out to the owners of the property by phone call and text message on Wednesday and Thursday this week, with no response as of publication.

Find more of our coverage on the Abbotsford School District here.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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