A brand new industrial Mushroom composting business named Avina Fresh Produce Ltd. and H.Q. Mushroom Farm Ltd. located at 28310 – 58th Ave in west Bradner is emitting a foul odour. Neighbouring residents say that if they leave windows open in the night, toxic fumes and unpleasant odours waft in. Because of of Bradner's unique location, wind-less nights draw in a Pacific Ocean fed 'marine layer' that forms over the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) area, and traps concentrations of any toxins or off-gasses beneath this layer at ground level.
The facility is a rebuild, the old one burnt down after a fire in August 2009. Bradner residents were overjoyed as the stench that was emitted on a daily basis - foul and intolerable, subsequently dissipated.
Now a new facility is being built in its place. A representative from the facility says, "We are in testing mode right now. The air filtration system consists of combination of forced air system, an air scrubber and a biofilter. The air from the concrete bunkers and enclosed working hall is passing through the system of air ducts and is processed in the air scrubber and further in a biofilter."
But a quote from the September 2015 Ministry of Agriculture study says that in regards to Mushroom Composting says “odours that cause or are capable of causing material physical discomfort to a person are classified as an emission that causes pollution” - The Environmental Management Act MUSHROOM COMPOST FACILITIES REGULATION
After investigation, further pollutants besides air have been found. The images above were taken in August 2015 showing the location of the infeed drain pipe installed in the toxic pond, without the liner installed. The toxins are intended to drain into this pond kills things. The photographer isn't sure if liners they intend to use are waterproof. But says that "the liner and the infeed drain pipe need to be installed together to obtain a watertight seal where the pipe comes through the liner. That could not have happened given the August 2015 image, and I suspect that the liner is the same type of fabric as a holding pond, which is only intended to prevent weed growth and anchor the surface soils against erosion, not waterproofing."
The first two images show a drain coming from the site and which drains into an open ditch which goes past the pond seen in the March 28 image, and then around the back of that pond, which leach in to the Nathan Creek water system.
In the third image above, also taken in August 2015, there is a drain hose running through the excavation into Nathan Creek which the owner had previously destroyed and was fined for, it's apparent Avina Fresh Produce Ltd. and H.Q. Mushroom Farm Ltd. continue to pollute Nathan Creek without abatement.
Two wellhead pipes were also seen at the facility, which are typically used to control the subsurface water table levels, and in this case, to suck the water table level down so that the pond doesn't overflow. However, this would include that what was pumped 'out' would be put somewhere else, and in the case where it's a toxic fluid, ideally it would be trucked away to a proper handling facility for safe disposal, but there is a second much larger pond in the background, which together, aggregate a huge seep drain to allow the fluids to drain into the water underlying table, and into any existing aquifer underlying this location.
This practice may prevent Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) from discovering any further pollution in the waters of Nathan Creek, but any well water or aquifer sourced water would be totally unsuitable for consumption by any life form, for growing food crops or animal feed. In the case of aquifer, the geographic area impacted would be massive.
This type of water table level control is in common use in open pit mining, almost without exception.
Abbotsford City Manager, George Murray, said that "discussions have been held with colleagues at the Ministry of Agriculture as well as the Bylaw Department. Our Zoning Bylaw has special provisions for “Mushroom composting”... Magda Laljee, Bylaw Services Manager and I have discussed the process of enforcement in this area. I am confident that our Bylaw Team will immediately start to deal with the mushroom operation noted above." Which they did... but were ignored, appeased or have turned a blind eye.
Mushroom Composting is an Industrial Activity
This above picture is the Cease and Desist Order that was posted at the gate of the facility on April 1st, 2016. The Order was posted until Sunday, April 3rd, 2016 on which date it went missing... and it is unlikely that Abbotsford City removed it on a Sunday.
Yet neighbours witnessed off-gassing activities emanating from the facility immediately after the Cease and Desist Order was posted and submitted the images below taken.
The facility neither ceased, or desisted operation and is neighbours see that rather it remains a fully active industrial composting site, conducting activities against the order - the Cease and Desist Order did not even produce a pause, let alone a cessation.
Beginning Monday April 4th, 2016 transport trucks are being seen going to and leaving the facility, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Residents are concerned for both the sensitive riparian and salmon bearing creek and air quality - in addition to conducting industrial activities on ALR land.
Mushroom composting is classified as industrial and should be built in an industrial area where most of the air in the surrounding buildings is purified or air conditioned, there are no children and nobody sleeps there at night.
In addition to Conducting Industrial Operations on ALR Land...
Kim Sutherland, Regional Agrologist, issued this statement "The City of Abbotsford has strict standards for mushroom farms in the City. In their zoning bylaw, which is approved by the Minister of Agriculture, mushroom farms must operate in a fashion that meets their bylaw. If an operation does not meet these standards, then the City has the powers to enforce their bylaw.
I understand that the mushroom farmer may still be in the process of constructing a new building. He should not be operating until a new building has been constructed.
Farmers are protected from frivolous complaints regarding nuisances to do with farming by the Right to Farm Act. Odour issues can be referred to the Ministry of Agriculture to deal with and at any time complainants can refer to the Farm Industry Review Board about a compliant regarding nuisance from farm practices, including odour. The Farm Industry Review Board can decide to “hear” a complaint if it is deemed serious. Then there is a semi-judicial hearing to determine if the farmer is following “normal farm practices.” The Board determines what “normal” is. If the farmers does not comply with the standard set by the Board, then the complainants can sue the farmer in civil court. If the farmer is following normal farm practices, then they are protected by the Right to Farm. If they are not, then they are not protected by Right to Farm.
So in this case, the farm practices are very stringent and laid out in the City Bylaw. All mushroom farms must operate according to the bylaw. This would also likely be the “normal farm practice” standard set by the Board. Enforcement of this bylaw would be through the City’s processes."
Residents continue to organize the battle against pollution and noxious odours. Documentation is being gathered and events are being logged with notes and pictures for submission to Fisheries and Oceans, the Ministry of Environment, the Agriculture Land Commission and the City of Abbotsford.
Mushroom farm fined, An Abbotsford-based mushroom farm has been found guilty of polluting a creek, and fined $90,000
Mushroom farming business fined $90,000 and ordered to carry out restorative work
Cause of huge B.C. mushroom farm fire accidental
Abbotsford mushroom farms fined for dumping toxins - Two Abbotsford mushroom farms have been hit with fines totalling $90,000 after they were caught dumping toxic waste into and near a salmon-bearing stream
Report Pollution to the RAPP line and send to Debra Crosby-Desrochers, City of Abbotsford, DCrosby-Derochers@abbotsford.ca
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