Neighbours cry foul over smells

Harvest Power is making quite the impression with neighbours, but not likely in the way the environmentally-friendly firm formerly known as Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre had intended.

Dozens of complaints this year about foul smells emanating from the firm have been handled by Metro Vancouver, which has confirmed that 27 are the result of the company's operation in East Richmond.

Harvest Power takes yard and food waste from the city and composts it, turning it into energy.

"We have noted odours coming from that facility impacting various parts in the region," said Ray Robb, Metro Vancouver's manager of environmental regulation and enforcement.

Robb said 54 complaints have come in this year from all over the Lower Mainland, including White Rock, Vancouver, Burnaby, Delta and Richmond.

Using primarily wind direction from meteorological recordings, investigators from Metro Vancouver were able to trace the source of the nuisance smell in 27 cases to Harvest's facility in East Richmond, Robb said.

In addition to the 54 complaints, many others who have contacted Metro Vancouver may have cast the blame on other businesses, but the real culprit may have been odours from Harvest Power, Robb noted. He said once investigators check to see if the initially suspected firm is responsible, but has been found innocent, there simply aren't enough resources to find the true culprit, meaning the offender is never pinpointed.

Aside from running afoul with neighbours, Harvest Power's activities could cost them in the pocketbook in the future.

Metro Vancouver is proposing that industries pay fees based on the severity of the odours they emit.

The polluter-pay fees are based on a cost-recovery model, to offset the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year expended in staff time responding to industrial odour complaints.

"What we're saying is you can emit the odour but we're going to charge you based on what impact that odour has," Robb told Black Press earlier this year.

Metro Vancouver is proposing legislation that will require industry to measure the amount of odour it emits, and how much the emissions must be diluted in the air so that people won't smell it.

If the emissions impact a large area with a lot of people in it, the proposed legislation would force the company to pay more in comparison to another firm doing the same thing, but in a less populated area.

The Review contacted Harvest Power, but the firm's marketing manager said the company was going to decline to comment.

—with files from Black Press

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