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Foul odour prompts local to gather public feedback

A local resident, fearful that the current effort to eliminate the foul smell linked to Harvest Power's composting facility in East Richmond will linger on for years, is urging Richmond residents to get involved.

"I believe only the community involvement will solve this problem," wrote Patricio Alfaro in an e-mail. "I am writing because I am interested in building awareness of the damage the offensive odour has...to the environment, and to property value."

Alfaro has set up an e-mail address, and is encouraging people upset about the smell to send in e-mails to richmondsmell@gmail.com.

Alfaro hopes to establish a social network whose goal is to eliminate the odour problem.

Alfaro's concerns stem from the experience of residents in London, Ontario, where a waste treatment facility was introduced six years ago.

Alfaro said officials from Orgaworld promised their facility would be "odour free."

"The situation in London, Ont. may be related to a different type of waste processing than Harvest Power, but the passive reaction of the people in a position of solving the odour problem in Richmond is the same as in London," he said. "We hear from the city authorities, from Metro Vancouver, and from Harvest Power management that a solution is in study, giving hope for a return to fresh air again in Richmond and other communities affected."

But Alfaro fears the reality "is that the damaging offensive smell will continue for years to come."

"Promise after promise, the community authorities, the environment authority, and the composting plant have not resolved the problem. The local residents are tired and want the London plant closed for good.

Harvest Power, which is near No. 9 Road and Highway 91 in East Richmond, takes yard and food waste from the city and composts it, turning it into energy.

“We are absolutely committed to dealing with this issue, and given our good record of odour management at the facility going back to the early 1990s, see it as a temporary problem that we can full resolve,” Jeff Leech, regional vice president of Harvest Power, told The Richmond Review last week.

“We are absolutely committed to dealing with this issue, and given our good record of odour management at the facility going back to the early 1990s, see it as a temporary problem that we can full resolve.”

A large part of the problem is expected to be addressed by a new multi-million dollar anaerobic digester that recently came online, and encapsulates the composting process into a closed-air system.

Harvest Power has set up a community hotline to respond to inquiries, comments and complaints at 604-836-8387.

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