Kingston residents complain about foul odour from baby formula plant

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Kingston residents complain about foul smell from baby formula plant
WATCH: Canada Royal Milk representative says two equipment malfunctions are at the root of the recent odour problem – Mar 9, 2021

Paul Hartwick lives a little over 200 metres from the Royal Milk Canada baby formula plant in Kingston, Ont., and says for the last four days a foul smell has been coming from the plant.

“It’s like rotten eggs and sewage mixed together — it was a terrible smell,” said Hartwick.

He’s says there has been no escaping the smell which has been strongest first thing in the morning.

“You could smell it in the house,” said Hartwick. “It wasn’t of course as strong as outside, but outside it was nauseating.”

Simon Chapelle is the district councillor for the area where Hartwick lives and where the plant is located.

He says he first became aware of the problem through an email he received on March 5 from a constituent and says another resident called 911 about the smell on March 8.

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“Thinking it was a natural gas leak and we had a number of fire trucks sent out early in the morning out of concern,” said Chapelle.

Chapelle came out to the plant Tuesday morning and says the stench was more than he could bear.

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“I could not handle the smell and lost my lunch so to speak or my breakfast and it was really bad,” said Chapelle.

Canada Royal Milk’s Human Resource Manager Carey Bidtnes says there were two equipment malfunctions in the past week.

“The liquid waste that was sent to the wastewater treatment plant was higher in concentrated protein,” Bidtnes told Global Kingston.

Bidtnes says those proteins overwhelmed their pre-treatment plant.

She says the engineering department has been monitoring and testing as the systems come back on-line.

Bidtnes says they have now set up preventative protocols to keep this situation from occurring again.

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“We have a series of holding tanks so we can divert to different holding tanks before putting it into the mechanical process.”

Hartwick says he has endured the smell a few times over the last several months but says he’s willing to forgive and forget as long as the smell doesn’t become an ongoing issue.

“If it’s an anomaly and it’s an unusual amount all at once and it’s a one-time thing, then let it be over and done.”

For his part, though, Chapelle says the baby formula company needs to be more proactive in its communication with the community.

“If they want to be a good neighbour explain what’s happening so people don’t call the fire department thinking it’s a gas leak.”

Royal Milk Canada has to treat it’s liquid waste on-site before it enters the municipal system because it contains biological solids like cream and fat that could clog municipal sewer systems.


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