New odour control at EarthRenew?

·3 min read

While some rural residents are opposed to the restart of EarthRenew, a manure-to-fertilizer plant in Wheatland County, the facility will be different from the last time it ran, according to the company’s CEO.

Besides being under new ownership, the facility, located at Cattleland Feedyards north of Strathmore, will be designed to control odours better, said Keith Driver, CEO of EarthRenew Inc.

The past operation, which operated around 2008, had limited odour control mechanisms, he explained. But this time around, EarthRenew is planning capital investments in environmental control technologies to reduce odour.

While the company has not made final equipment selections, Driver anticipates the plant will feature a combination of technologies. These may include a bag house, cyclones and a dual scrubber designed to take out any fine particulates and reduce odours to a level not detected by humans.

“We are still speaking with the design engineers and vendors to understand the order of flow and which options would work best in combination,” he said.

The company is also studying the odour profile of its process in a lab to ensure what particulates need to be eliminated.

EarthRenew says it is committed to engaging with the community to address concerns.

“We are interested in listening to any concerns residents may have regarding the proposed new EarthRenew organic fertilizer facility and providing answers to address concerns in a timely manner,” said Driver. “I am not sure the prior entity undertook such careful and complete steps to speak to stakeholders.”

The company has spoken to or attempted to speak to about 40 residents with concerns and has submitted information packages to area residents and posts information to its website, said Driver. It has provided Wheatland County an odour management plan, which includes recording complaints, investigation and response, reporting to Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) and reviewing odour complaint records.

Another concern voiced by residents is the plant reducing the water table, as it accesses groundwater for use in the process. The water is used for operations at the power facility operating onsite at Cattleland. Once the fertilizer facility is up and running, the turbine on site provides the waste heat used to dry the animal waste. But the amount of water the plant uses (2,100 m3 per year) should not alter the local water table, said Driver.

“Given the small amount of water we have requested access to – essentially two household’s worth – we have as much chance of drawing down the aquifer as any household in the community,” he said. “Our usage is monitored and limited.”

If aquifer levels diminish, restrictions would likely be adjusted by the AEP.

Wheatland County’s municipal planning committee will consider granting a development permit for the facility on April 13. If a development permit is approved, EarthRenew will seek approval from AEP. This will require the completion of air dispersion modelling, as well as the submission of groundwater, stormwater and odour management plans.

“We are working hard with all levels of government to address the various concerns and ensure we have all the right equipment and design choices to ensure the highest levels of compliance,” said Driver.

Obtaining AEP permitting, selecting equipment and beginning commissioning may take a year.

“To residents, it may sound like we haven’t made all the decisions yet around the technology,” he said. “However, it is because the investment in equipment and making those design choices has many variables that continue to evolve, and we want to remain flexible to ensure the project is a success.”

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times