A photo taken by Ministry of Environment inspectors on Nov. 22, 2018. The photo shows manure runoff on the south side of the storage facility. Ministry of Environment photo.

Toxic smell returns to Abbotsford elementary school raising health concerns for students, teachers and parents

King Traditional Elementary suffers daily from neighbouring waste-storage facility’s stench

A toxic stench has returned to an Abbotsford elementary school, raising health concerns for parents, teachers and students.

The lingering smell became a problem soon after the property across from King Traditional Elementary was purchased by the fertilizer company 93 Land Company Ltd. in March 2017, according to parents at the school.

Ministry of the Environment inspection officers found the company was in violation of the Environmental Management Act for improper storage and importation of manure in October 2017.

The company has received three official warnings of non-compliance since that first inspection and was fined $20,000 on the third warning in November 2018.

“The waste storage facilities do not have air emission control systems to collect or treat dust and other potential air contaminants generated,” the most recent inspection report reads.

After the fine, the smell improved for the last half of the 2018 school year but has now returned, according to Sukhjinder Baer, a mother of two students at the school.

“My oldest daughter always brings her lunch back without eating and says, ‘I cannot eat Momma because of the smell,’” Baer said. “She hasn’t eaten her breakfast the last two weeks. She says even if she tries to eat something in the morning she feels nauseated later.”

Students immediately cover their noses after being dropped off by their parents in the morning, said Kam Rai, a father of a student at the school.

“[The kids] don’t deserve this and it’s counter-productive to them having a healthy memory of being a student,” Rai said.

Students and staff have reported headaches, nausea, breathing issues and sore throats from the smell.

Teachers made 15 WorkSafeBC complaints citing these symptoms from March 2017 to November in 2018, according to a board of education staff report from the same month.

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

“[The people running the company] really just don’t care, they’re in non-compliance and they’re continuing to operate,” said Shannon Gaudette, a parent at the school who has been trying to fix the problem for two years.

“Ethical businesses, if they’re in non-compliance would shut down operations until they were.”

Gaudette says the school’s administration and the district have been slow to react to parents’ concern. She organized a petition that was sent to the board of education in January 2018 and signed by over 300 parents, but she says she never received a response.

A school district staff report from November 2018 said the district was meeting with the owners to decrease the impact of the odour, undertaking air quality investigations, installing special filters in the school’s HVAC system and encouraging parents to contact the Ministry of Environment air pollution complaint line.

But parents were recently told by the school’s principal, Tyler Baruta, they cannot hand out the phone number of the ministry’s pollution complaint line on school grounds, according to several parents.

Gaudette said she was told by Baruta that the issue is “political,” and because the ministry’s pollution complaint line was not on a school district form, it couldn’t be distributed on school property.

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

“This is about the health and wellness of your students and your teachers,” Gaudette said. “It’s beyond me, it’s hardly political.”

Parents who send their kids to school on the bus may be unaware of the health risks to their children, said Josephine Leonard, a mother and lunch-hour supervisor.

“We are a public school – I feel that we have a right to share facts about the situation with other parents. It is completely baffling why the district and administration does not support us,” Leonard said.

Rai said if the smell is not improved soon he’s considering moving his daughter to a different school – at her request.

“She’s asked a couple times, and she has friends there,” Rai said.

The school district and 93 Land Company did not response to The News’s inquiry by the time of press.

Baer says her family is very upset with the school district and the issue should be taken more seriously.

“It’s not about my child, it’s not about one child, if it’s about school, then it’s about everyone’s children.”

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


@portmoodypigeon
patrick.penner@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Voters in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Langley may head back to polls in 2021

Election of local politicians in BC vote would trigger by-elections in several Fraser Valley cities

Youth Unlimited in Abbotsford recently celebrated the grand opening of their renovated office space on Emerson Street. (Submitted photo)
Youth Unlimited in Abbotsford among 4 charities supported by fundraiser

Joseph Richard Group holds month-long One Month In campaign

BC Liberal candidates Michael de Jong (left) and Bruce Banman are projected to win in Abbotsford West and Abbotsford South, respectively. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News
Abbotsford BC Liberals de Jong and Banman heading to Victoria, say Highway 1 widening will be focus

In Abbotsford-Mission, BC Liberal Simon Gibson in close race against NDP’s Pam Alexis

Oct. 24 is election day
COLUMN: An election day like none other

Toques went on. So did masks. And democracy rolled on.

Giana Randhawa of Abbotsford has written and published a children’s book titled My Favourite Colour is Pink. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford woman writes children’s book about acceptance

Giana Randhawa says there’s too much pressure to fit into gender roles

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil forfeiture office alleges $2M Surrey home was used to launder cannabis money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

Most Read