By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Champion Petfoods’ CEO Frank Burdzy attended Council’s final meeting this term to provide an update on where the company was in terms of odour mitigation.
The Morinville manufacturer began a long road of efforts to reduce its cooking smell back in June of 2010 with a $500,000 investment in a plasma injector system. That technology proved ineffective in getting the job done for their particular type of operation; however, the company’s more recent installation of a high-tech chimney system on their main plant has greatly reduced odour in the air, the company says.
Burdzy presented a table of numbers to Council based on an initial baseline of intensity, frequency and duration, and told Council where the company is at after installing the new chimney. According to Champion’s figures, odour has been reduced between 79 and 95 per cent, depending on location and conditions. The company says there will still be some odour present under certain weather conditions, but it is now much less frequent and intense than in the past.
“The three areas that we knew we had to address were intensity of odour, frequency of odour and duration of odour because we knew all of those things were creating issues for the residents and commercial business owners of the town,” Burdzy said, adding the company contracted an independent contractor in 2011 to do an initial baseline test of odour. At that time, the plant emitted a reading of 96 odour units. In terms of frequency, the initial testing spread over the course of a year showed a reading of 412 occurrences of 10-minutes or less. Abatement tests begun by an independent company in May of 2013 show the plant is now down from 96 odour units to five, and from 58 units to three in the most impacted areas. Frequency has also declined from 412 occurrences to 67. Burdzy said they have surpassed their objective of reducing odour emissions but plan to continue on the path.
Part of the ongoing process to ensure that level is kept down and dropped further involves regular sanitation and maintenance schedules on the high tech chimney, ongoing statistical reviews on odour emissions, altering cooking temperatures, and adjusting schedules when community events are going on.
Public engagement still key
Burdzy said the company has become more active in the community both as a corporate citizen and in seeking feedback. A public open house held in 2012 resulted in hearing a lot of viewpoints on the company and its odour.
The company is planning a second open house for the community Oct. 4 during the Morinville Food and Jam Festival. They are using the event partly to keep the public informed of their odour reduction efforts and partly to let people know of the employment opportunities at the Morinville plant. “One of six people who live and work full time in Morinville work for us,” Burdzy said. “We need more people. We are currently sitting with about 20 vacancies. We need people that want to be here, live here and work here.”
As Champion has worked to reduce its odour profile in the community, it has also worked to raise its corporate citizen profile. Recent support of the Morinville Festival Society, Morinville Community Library, and Morinville Youth Basketball Association are part of recent efforts to be seen as an active part of the town and its culture. “We actually want to become and be an active part of this community,” Burdzy said, adding the results of a survey the company conducted more than a year ago revealed Morinville residents want more for families to do.
Mayor Gordon Boddez and Council expressed their gratitude to Champion for staying the course to reduce odour from the plant. “When you first presented you made a number of statements that you were going to do something about this and the accountability that you accepted at that time,” Boddez recalled. “It was a very serious situation for the Town and for your company at that time because the council was receiving a tremendous amount of negative feedback from the people in this community and surrounding areas. It was a very serious situation, and I think your leadership in tackling this and maintaining course all these years is very gratifying for both your company as well as this community. You have embraced the community in a way that I think you didn’t before this and you have integrated your company into Morinville and the surrounding area in a very positive manner. I think this Council really applauds you for the work you’ve done. We want you to continue with it. It’s not over. We really do appreciate your contribution.”