The “toxic” smell permeating the school grounds at King Traditional Elementary will be discussed by trustees at a public school board meeting early next month.
On Dec. 3, the school district’s organizational health and safety department will be giving a report to the board of education on the stench wafting over from the composting facility located 100 metres from the school.
“We acknowledge the ongoing challenges and frustration involved with this situation and continue in our efforts to escalate these concerns to the appropriate agencies responsible to ensure public health,” reads a letter to one parent from the district’s Secretary Treasurer, Ray Velestuk.
The smell has been causing negative health effects for the school’s students and staff for almost two years since the property was purchased by the fertilizer company, 93 Land Company.
The B.C.’s Ministry of Environment said they aware of the situation and the company was recently issued a $9,000 fine on June 17, but also said there is “no predetermined number of contraventions that must occur to trigger a compliance response.”
The company was previously issued multiple warnings of non-compliance for improper storage and importation of manure under the Environmental Management Act and was fined $20,000 in November 2018.
After the fine, the smell improved for the second half of the school year but it returned in September.
“It is the Ministry’s expectation that this facility should be capable of operating in its current location without issue once they have implemented best achievable technology practices for odour and leachate control,” said a spokesperson for the ministry.
The most recent inspection from November 2019 found the company was still in violation of sections of the Environmental Management Act.
From March 2017 to November in 2018, teachers made 15 WorkSafeBC claims relating to the smell, according to a board of education staff report.
Students and teachers have reported nausea, headaches, breathing issues, sore throats and more – all symptoms related to manure exposure typically found in farm workers, according to the National Collaborative Centre for Environmental Health.