Deputy Mayor unimpressed with Champion Petfoods presentation

Champion Petfoods President and CEO Frank Burdzy receives a certificate from Morinville Deputy Mayor Paul Krauskopf during the June 15 Standing Committee of Morinville Town Council. Burdzy’s company had recently installed a $500,000 plasma-injector system to mitigate the odour from its cooking process. Four months later the odour is still an issue for Morinville residents. – File Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Deputy Mayor Paul Krauskopf had some harsh words for Champion Petfoods President and CEO Frank Burdzy Tuesday night, urging the head of the local manufacturing plant to return to Morinville Town Council in January of 2011 with some concrete solutions on what the plant was doing to mitigate the smell emanating from its stacks.

Burdzy had come to the Oct. 26 council meeting to respond to a public delegation concerned about the plant’s odour and to answer questions from council members. Burdzy’s appeal included a PowerPoint presentation on who and what the company was, its standing in its industry and among business, and the company’s desire to be a good corporate citizen within Morinville.

“That good corporate citizen and trust has gone out the door, as far as I’m concerned,” Krauskopf told Burdzy, adding the quality of life for many Morinville residents had gone out the door along with it.

The Deputy Mayor went on to chastise the company for its plan to move its offices and some warehousing from Morinville to Edmonton while leaving the smell behind. “That’s a slap in the face,” Krauskopf said.

Burdzy defended the company’s decision as being one necessary, given the limited footprint the factory has in Morinville. The Champion president said an additional 115,000 square feet of warehouse space was needed to meet demands for its product and that to build additional warehouse space in Morinville would take six to eight months.

Prior to Champion’s presentation, council heard from two Morinville residents: Lucas Perry and Matthew Christopher, both of whom were concerned about Champion’s contribution to Morinville’s air quality.

Emissions from the Champion Pet Food Plant in Morinville were a concern during the election that carried over tot he first regular meeting of Morinville's new council.
Perry said he grew up in Morinville, attended the University of Alberta, and had since moved back to Morinville with his wife and two daughters. The Morinville father said he had many fond memories of growing up here.

“One of my fond memories is of smelling the start of a fresh rain at the start of a storm,” Percy said, adding his fear was his daughters’ memories would be the smell of dog food.

Percy said over the summer he had to bring barbecue guests indoors because the smell of the plant was overpowering the smell of the meat he was cooking on his barbecue. Additionally, the complainant told council he had to have his windows closed on what he regarded as the hottest day of the summer.

But for Percy, the smell is not merely associated with life in his and his neighbour’s yards. “Driving here, I could smell Morinville before I could see Morinville,” he said, adding he wonders how great an effect it is having on local businesses and those looking to sell homes in Morinville. “We’re paying with the very air we breathe.”

Beyond the economic and social concerns, Percy said he was concerned that what is coming out of the plant’s stacks may be harmful to residents, something Champion has denied, stating the emissions are purely the normal process of cooking their natural ingredients and that they add no chemicals in the manufacturing process.

“We’re made to breathe oxygen not the off gases of industry,” Percy told council, noting that what has often been deemed to have no effect on a person’s health is often found to be quite harmful at some future point. “Champion, left to their own devices, is not coming up with a solution.”

Percy suggested council take a zero-tolerance approach to emissions and odours, setting meaningful fines for violators and stopping new developments or expansions of old until compliance had been proven.

It was a point of view shared by fellow complainant Matthew Christopher, who told council that as a husband with two dogs, only half of the family agreed the smell coming from Champion was an acceptable thing.

Christopher advocated council to come up with a strong air quality bylaw for Morinville with escalating fines that would make it financially unviable for businesses to pollute the community’s air.

Like Percy, Christopher said he was concerned with possible health issues, stating he was not concerned with the particulate matter coming out of Champion’s stacks as much as he was with the volatile Organic compounds (VOC).

Christopher told council that during the election campaign it had been brought up several times that council and administration had been working closely with Champion, and he called on council to provide residents with a time line of action items that have gone on up to this point.

Responding to the residents’ concerns, Burdzy told council the odour is not something Champion wished to ignore and that he had come to give further information and to clarify some misconceptions that had been raised during the election campaign. Chief among them was the notion that the $500,000 plasma-injector system the plant installed in June was broken and the company did not wish to repair it.

“We’ve been at it every single week,” the president said of his company’s interaction with the system’s manufacturer to tweak the existing system. As well as looking at other technologies to help mitigate the odour. “I accept and acknowledge we are not in an ideal situation. We’re not resting on that.”

One area of concern to Burdzy is the fact that the estimated 80 per cent mitigation rate that had been hoped for when the company’s plasma-injector system was installed last spring has not been realized. “I’m not satisfied that we are there,” he said, adding the company had been told 80 per cent mitigation rates were achievable.

While just how close the company will be able to get to hat number remains to be seen, Burdzy said it is unlikely that 100 per cent mitigation would be possible because he had yet to see any technology capable of that. The Champion president said there would be some fluctuations in the odour, depending on high and low air pressure, wind direction and even plant related issues, including ambient odour from the opening of warehouse doors.

The Champion president said while the company, historically, has not gone seeking public feedback, they were hoping to organize a series of open houses to give residents an opportunity to look at the operation themselves.

Councillor David Pattison said he was impressed with the company’s awards of recognition for the quality of their product, but felt Champion’s real challenge would be in trying to obtain awards for its emission standards.

Deputy Mayor Krauskopf seemed less impressed in hearing about the company’s accolades. Krauskopf said he wanted the president to return to council in January, giving him some pointed specifics as to what he did and did not want to hear at that time.

“I don’t want to hear about awards,” Krauskopf said. “I want to hear something concrete.”

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6 Comments

  1. Having spoken to people in the “know” I agree with Lucie on two comments- was the president of Champion to speak??? The impression left after October was debatable if it would happen. And yes in January there was a presentation. But there was nothing concrete that was provided to Council as was requested.

    i agree with her that the October meeting was well handled by then Deputy Mayor Krauskopf and the January meeting was scheduled because of him. Was Council and petfoods only blowing away the emissions concerns? This came up in October when the Deputy Mayor was speaking and was not afforded the the respect he deserved as Deputy Mayor. The reception towards all was better addressed at the January meeting.
    On behalf of the many people many are waiting for replies- on this point I disagree. The odour concerns do not affect everyone and others in different degrees of discomfort.Thankyou to those who can stand up for the residents.

  2. Over the past few months I have had many conversations with friends and neighbors, as well as elected officials regarding the stench coming from Champion. It seems Champion has bought themselves some time; however I do not think the citizens that reside around Champion should take a wait and see approach and assume that they will comply. All they have agreed to is to run a pilot program to study the effectiveness of a few scrubbing processes; not achieve 80% effectiveness. I feel that we will be disappointed when August roils around. I have proposed to the people I spoke with that we form an Association dedicated to this issue. It seems to me that virtually everyone I speak to that is subjected to the stench regularly would at the very least join an association to get the membership high enough to make it a relevant stakeholder throughout the process of making Champion achieve a minimum 80% reduction in a Timely fashion. I am sure that there are several people on this board, and who have gone to council that would be interested in assisting me in forming the association? Send me an email to scojoc@yahoo.com and let’s take this to the next level.

  3. Scott, there are people interested and I encourage volumes of people to participate in ridding of this. The resolution to this issue moves about as fast as a dead cow and we can thank our elected town/county Mayors and council for that. SOMEONE signs off on that business license to allow operations possible. SOMEONE also has authority to put bylaws in place in regards to air quality. Their demeanour is slack and unacceptable in my opinion. More voices WILL speak louder.

    People who want to have Alberta Environment informed about your concerns and/or complaints on this air/health altering issue, please call 1-800-222-6514.

    I encourage people to take a stand and demand that we get what we are entitled; increased quality of life and fair treatment as tax payers, home owners and HUMANS! Contact your concerned MLA, Mayor and Council. We, our families and young children should NOT feel ill when we leave our front doors or be forced to turn furnace/air systems off to prevent the pollution from invasively entering our homes. We certainly shouldn’t be subject to lowered property values due to the elephant in the middle of Morinville who craps on the town and its surrounding communities.

  4. Strong odors will prevent business for investing and prevent growth of the town. Would you invest in a business, such as a hotel in a town with offensive odors? Would you buy a house in a community which had offensive odors? A plant which employees approximately 65 people does not have the right to prevent the growth and quality of life for the people of Morinville. People have the right to be free of strong offensive odors in their homes. The town of Morinville has given enough opportunity to Champion Company, over the past three years. I strongly support the town decision to revoke Champion business license in June 2012, unless this issue is completely resolved.

  5. I dont live in Alberta but did read thru all the comments and, as an impartial outsider, think you all have valid points. However i dont think the citizens will get very far by reacting emotionally. I think that if you approach the problem in a business sense you’ll get much further. Instead of just crying and complaining because Champion cannot miraculously stop the odor, perhaps it would be more productive to start a community initiative inviting everyone and anyone to help SOLVE the problem. Kids, schools, students, apprentices, other plant businesses who solved their issues. No one is denying that Champion is a great company and other than the smell is good for the city. So why not help solve the problem by doing a little research and coming up with some realistic solutions (other than shutting down or moving) that can be proposed to Champion Petfoods. You get more bees with honey, as they say.

  6. as regina line is called

    And another give away hollister soldes is the CC icon,hollister soldes. The top of the right C should hollister over lap the left and the bottom of the left C should over lap the right,hollister!!!! Big give away,hollister. Also look at the stitching!!!! Do not buy Chanel from an unlicensed dealer hollister !

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