Resident in Hamilton neighbourhood plagued by ‘terrible odour’ questions air sampling

A photo of the GFL Stoney Creek Regional Facility sits at 65 Green Mountain Road West. A resident is questioning air quality testing that was done in August near the GFL landfill in her neighbourhood. Google Maps

A Stoney Creek resident says a “terrible odour” that’s been wafting through her neighbourhood in recent months doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of going away.

Kathleen Taylor says the daily stench has forced her to keep her windows closed for much of the summer and she’s dissapointed a recent investigation from the city is reporting “no imminent public health hazard.”

“I can’t leave my windows open to air out my house because I don’t know when the smell is going to start,” Taylor says. “We have to keep our houses closed up and running our air conditioners when we shouldn’t.”

Taylor’s home is near Green Mountain Road and Upper Centennial Parkway, not far from a GFL regional facility that appears to be emitting hydrogen-sulfide from a leachate pond, according to Hamilton Public Health officials.

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Air quality measurements taken for the city by the Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP) in August revealed “no violations” but the staff conceded in a report that odours from the gas can “cause stress” and affect one’s “quality of life.”

“In this case, while air quality standards are exceeded, the odour can continue to cause stress and impact enjoyment of property and quality of life, including feeling unwell with headaches and nausea,” the mid-September update said.

The MECP says it’s testing took place over ten different days between August 8 thru 29 and sought the presence of some 16 different airborne compounds that could be creating a “garbage” smell.

It did identify the presence of eight different smells including “garbage,” “wet diaper” and “urine.”

The findings were also reviewed by an independent consultant which only discovered one day where odours were actually quantifiable by test equipment.

Taylor says she doesn’t believe the work got “true samples” of what is happening in her neighbourhood, submitting that the length of how long equipment was activated between sampling was too short.

“The testing was only done for two minute samples instead of the 10 minutes called for by the ambient air quality criteria, ” Taylor insisted.

“Also, it was taken during the day and as I just said, the odours are mostly at night. So if they’re taking it when it’s not very odourous, they’re not getting true samples.”

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Odour complaints from the community even caught the attention of Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) members this past month, so much so the body opted to pause plans to build a new elementary school near the site.

Associate Director Matthew Gerard told a HWDSB sub committee that staff are putting a pause on procurement for the Tapleytown Elementary replacement on Mud Street East due to its close proximity to the landfill.

He said staff need to go through several reports, including one from the MECP, to answer questions about what “possibilities may exist” going forward with the development.

“What does that nuisance odour mean and what we need to ascertain and what mitigating factors may exist to potentially prevent a nuisance odour from continuing to exist,” Gerard explained.

“Those are the types of things that we need to answer before we come back with any sense of a recommendation.”

Medical officer of health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson told council in the latest update that the ministry’s air quality testing is continuing.

“Public Health Services will review and assess future reported results and will update council as these assessments are available.”


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