Champion Petfoods presents action plan to council

Champion Petfoods has presented its action plan to council, a plan of attack it hopes will solve the odour problem by fall.

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Changes are in the air for Champion Petfoods, both figuratively and literally. Company President Frank Burzdy made a presentation to Morinville Town Council Tuesday night on what it calls its action plan for addressing Champion’s odour problem.

Burzdy last made a presentation to council Oct. 26; however, that presentation, focused largely on the company’s many awards, only served to infuriate Deputy Mayor Paul Krauskopf who directed Burzdy to return to council in January with some concrete plans as to what Champion was going to do about the odour it was creating in Morinville.

Burdzy told council Tuesday night he anticipates having the issue resolved by August or September of this year. “We do know we have an issue – we do know we have to solve it,” Burzdy said, adding the technology the company believes will fix the problem has been put in the Champion’s 2011 capital budget.

The possible solution would include the installation of a venturi scrubber system to remove fat-based vapours from the airstream prior to entering the company’s plasma injector system.

Champion activated its $500,000 plasma-injector system in both its plants in June of 2010, and although the equipment worked well for the first few weeks, system performance continued to be a problem through the summer, requiring repeated tweaking and resetting. The situation worsened in October, prompting Champion to bring in the specialist who designed and installed the system. Although new reactors were installed and a number of air leaks were fixed in the plant’s stacks, Burzdy said the real problem appears to be the presence of oil vapours passing through the dust filters and entering the plasma reactors. It is believed these fat-based vapour molecules, a by-product of the company’s fresh meat ingredients, have been getting trapped in the plasma injectors and blocking proper airflow.

“Plasma will not destroy a vapour. We have to remove the vapour molecule,” Burzdy said, adding the venturi scrubber separates the oil molecule from the water molecule. Champion has recently visited a plant that uses the system to see it in operation. “We’re very hopeful based on what we saw there.”

However, the company will not simply be ordering up the scrubber system in the hopes it will work. Burzdy said Champion would develop a detailed pilot test plan for the technology in February, followed by the building and testing of the pilot equipment in March. April would see the testing equipment installed and tested in the plant. The company would then order the full scale equipment which would be installed in July with follow up air quality testing conducted in August.

“I think it is evident Champion Petfoods are taking this very seriously,” said Councillor Gordon Boddez after Burdzy’s presentation, adding he would like to see the company do some baseline testing on its emissions, something Champion had originally planned to do in December.

“We were going to fail miserably if we did a test in December,” Burzdy said, adding the company instead focused on finding out exactly what was causing the odour problem.

In addition to the accumulation of fat molecules in the plasma injector system, the company discovered extremely high humidity levels in their stacks. Burzdy said the increased humidity resulted from condensation of the steam within the stacks, a situation that caused water molecules to stay in the stacks and fat molecules to build up until they were released in large concentrations of odour.

While it appears fat has been accumulating in Champion’s stacks, Deputy Mayor Paul Krauskopf expressed his concern that some of the company’s fat is ending up in Morinville’s sewer system. Burdzy said the company is doing some additional work in the plant to mitigate the situation, but some of the problem has been generated by the washing of totes used to transport the fresh ingredients Champion uses in the manufacture of its product.

Morinville resident Paul O’Dea was also on the agenda at Tuesday night’s meeting. Speaking after Burdzy, O’Dea said he was disappointed by Champion’s presentation because it contained more talk of trials and possible solutions to the problem.

“This does not sound or smell to me like a detailed plan,” O’Dea said, adding it was his opinion a business licence should not entitle a company to affect other taxpayers.

O’Dea’s presentation called on council to request Champion to make its solution-oriented research available to the public within 45 days and for council to implement an air quality and/or air odour bylaw for Morinville.

“I would hazard a guess that air quality is of greater concern to residents than wayward walruses and adventurous armadillos,” O’Dea said tongue in cheek, adding good air quality was important to the enjoyment of living in Morinville’s as well as the community’s future development and reputation.

Burdzy is planning to return to council at a later date with an update on the progress of the company’s action plan.

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