Anger mounts over Clean Harbors’ stench

Cathy Dobson in The Observer

(See the original article for photos)

Frustration has turned to outright anger as this community remains in the dark about Clean Harbors’ plans to stop a stench coming from its hazardous waste facility.

Tempers boiled over at a township council meeting Monday when a group of residents demanded to know why the intense odours continue to dog them and their families.

Earlier that evening, a foul odour invaded homes for the 12th time in two months, some as far away as six kilometres from the landfill on Telfer Road.

Resident Ed Walsh said his breathing was impacted and his eyes stung.

“We just can’t live a normal life,” he said. “We want to know what the company is going to do about it.”

Clean Harbors has a provincial licence and the township has little authority to do much other than advocate on behalf of the residents, said Mayor Steve Arnold.

“I have tremendous empathy for these people. I know I’d have a very hard time if I lived there.”

The township’s legal team sent a letter to Clean Harbors Thursday demanding the company release it’s plan to stop the smell. That plan was required by the Ministry of the Environment by Oct. 14 but details have not been made public.

A ministry spokesperson said the government is under no obligation to release Clean Harbors’ plan.

But Arnold and the neighbours said the company should be “a good citizen” and explain what actions it intends to take.

“We also want a public information session so our community can get some answers,” said Arnold.

Calls to Clean Harbors officials went unanswered Thursday.

The company issued a “Lambton Facility Update” one week ago that said it is using odour control products on its landfill.

It also started using an undisclosed type of foam on Oct. 11 and has tried to cover its leachate ponds.

“They claim to be making progress, but I don’t think they’ve made any progress because the odour continues,” said St. Clair Deputy Mayor Peter Gilliland.

He’s a council representative on the Clean Harbors’ liaison committee, which includes neighbours living within a one kilometre radius of the site.

They met with company officials Tuesday, but weren’t provided details of the plan submitted to the ministry.

“I told them we are very unhappy,” Gilliland said. “They are not taking this seriously. If they were, it would be fixed.”

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