Moncton north end smell coming from sewage compost site, deputy mayor says

·3 min read
A worker walks through part of the TransAqua sewage treatment facility in Riverview with the Moncton skyline in the background.  (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
A worker walks through part of the TransAqua sewage treatment facility in Riverview with the Moncton skyline in the background. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

The New Brunswick government is reviewing options to address a pungent smell from a Moncton sewage composting plant that's led to regular complaints from residents of the city's north end.

Bryan Butler, the city's deputy mayor, says the provincial Environment Department determined this spring that the smell was originating at the TransAqua operation.

"Certain companies played the denial game for a couple years," Butler said at a city council meeting Monday.

"We finally know what company it was: TransAqua. To me, we as council need to come up with a time limit for them to get this fixed. People in the north end are tired of it."

TransAqua treats wastewater from Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview at a facility along the Petitcodiac River. "Biosolids" from the wastewater are sent to its compost site south of Berry Mills Road in Moncton.

Shane Fowler/CBC
Shane Fowler/CBC

TransAqua, also known as the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission, was required to submit a plan to address the smell issue by the end of June.

City staff said the plan was submitted but didn't elaborate on what it says.

"The last update that I got is that the Department of Environment is reviewing this action plan and will decide on what measures must be applied by TransAqua," Elaine Aucoin, Moncton's general manager of sustainable growth and development services, told councillors.

Aucoin was not available late this week for a follow-up interview.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

The public utility's board met Thursday evening to discuss recommendations from a consultant's report, however it has yet to comment.

Kevin Rice, TransAqua's general manager, said in an email the commission's board decided a statement about the issue would be sent to the City of Moncton for distribution. It wasn't clear when that would take place.

Michel Desjardins, TransAqua's board chair, also deferred to the yet-to-be-issued statement.

CBC News has requested an interview with someone at the Environment Department, which regulates air quality.

TransAqua and the nearby Southeast Eco360 landfill were both considered suspected sources of the smell. Eco360 has its own compost site.

Earlier this year, the province, city, TransAqua and Eco360 formed a task force to investigate and address the smell.

The TransAqua compost site has been operating since 2005.

However, Rice told Moncton council in April that upgrades at its wastewater treatment plant have led to a 15 to 35 per cent increase in material transported to its compost site.

Some of TransAqua's options to address the smell could be costly, Rice told councillors earlier this year.

One option could cost up to $20M

One short-term option would be to truck the material to another plant such as one in Miramichi.

Another option would be to incinerate the material.

He said one long-term option would be to add an anaerobic digestion process. That would involve micro-organisms breaking down biodegradable material in an enclosed space in the absence of oxygen.

Rice said it could take years to design and implement such a system, with a possible cost in the $17 million to $20 million range.

Because TransAqua has yet to comment, it's unclear whether any of those options are still being considered.

TransAqua's budget is approved by Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview, which set annual sewage rates charged to households and businesses.

A statement from the city issued earlier this month says the province's review determined Rayan Environmental Solutions could be a source of a smell in the north end, but "of different nature" than the one from TransAqua.

The company that recycles metal and glass off Berry Mills Road also had to submit a plan to the province to address its smell.

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