By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Champion Petfoods announced Thursday its goal to reduce odour emissions is going to take more time. Company President Frank Burdzy said Champion is now targeting the spring of 2012 for completion of all the work needed to meet those targets after being advised by global air quality experts that an enhanced solution would be necessary to meet the challenges of the Morinville plant.
Champion has been working since the beginning of the year to identify and then implement a number of changes that would essentially convert the original feed mill operation started in Morinville a decade ago with a more state-of-the-art commercial kitchen operation. The past six months have been spent defining what the solutions would require in terms of equipment.
Burdzy told MorinvilleNews.com the company’s European consultant visited the plant in August along with representatives from Pinchin Environmental to assess the situation. “As they were here, they basically went through all of our processing, all of our airflows, all of our equipment square inch by square inch to identify all the things they would recommend we really should have taken care of as we’re implementing our odour management system,” Burdzy said. ”They gave us the advice we really need to take care of a few other things before we go to the final design of the Venturi scrubber and the stack system that we have planned to put in place. Really, the biggest delay is there are a number of things that are there to control ambient air, both in terms of flow as well as ambient odours in order to effectively control the emission.”
The Venturi scrubber system will remove fat molecules before they can hit the plasma injector system the company installed in June of 2010, a $500,000 investment that failed to meet its objective because it could not handle the fat molecules, a byproduct of Champion’s fresh meat ingredients.
Part of that work over the past few weeks has involved compartmentalizing the Morinville plant to better control and manage internal airflow. Thus far, walls have been erected along with rapid roll doors and an airlock system is to be installed by month end. Finishing touches to that phase of the project involves properly sealing the tops and bottoms of the walls so air leaks do not occur.
“A big chunk of it is done now – it’s just making sure everything is sealed off properly,” Burdzy said, noting each phase or component of the project will help further reduce odour reaching the community around the plant. Some air measuring equipment has been installed to measure emissions on a daily basis. “With the testing procedures, we’ve been able to identify an improvement from even this spring and early summer, just because of our internal processing changes and being able to get more consistency and more control over that. That was encouraging. It’s not to the level where it’s probably noticeable in a big way for the community, but it certainly has been encouraging to see the calculations and the numbers of molecules being emitted have come down noticeably.”
Burdzy said the work at hand is not a perfect science and that an adjustment in one area can have an impact on another area that needs to get addressed. “It’s a matter of diligence to make sure you are covering off all the elements as they need to be covered off,” he said. “We absolutely need to deal with escaping air from internal processes and internal vents. If there’s a little bit of air leak or a little bit of steam coming out from those places – ordinarily it wouldn’t be an issue, but when you compile it all together, it ends up creating a challenge that even your ambient air is getting re-circulated into the system. You could be doing everything possible to deal with your process air, but you still have ambient air that’s causing issues.”
Burdzy said he understands another extension to the project will be an issue for many residents, but he said he is hoping residents will continue to be patient and understand each part of the project will assist in reducing the odour further as the company works towards its target of 80 per cent reduction.
“We’ve got hundreds or thousands of metres of venting and tubing that carries the steam from process to process, and that’s actually checking every nut, every bolt, every seam, every joint to make sure that we’re not adding any complexity or challenge to the process,” he said. “And that all takes time, unfortunately.”
Burdzy said he was disappointed and frustrated with continuing to have delays and extensions on the project, but hopes no one will interpret it as a waning of commitment. “I think if anything it’s even accelerated our attention and focus to get to a really good, solid resolution that’s going to satisfy our needs and the needs of the community,” he said.