LOWER TRURO - Efforts are underway to reduce an increase in sickening odours emanating from the Rothsay rendering plant, a company official says.
"We're in the process of optimizing our equipment," said spokesman Dave Bauer from Maple Leaf's head office in Ontario.
Residents have been complaining about an increase in nauseating odours in recent months, including through e-mails and letters to the editor at the Truro Daily News.
Bauer acknowledged that the smell from the plant has increased after it introduced chicken feathers into its cooking process last summer.
"We're trying to find the optimal solution. We think we've got it," he said. "We just have to test a couple of things and meet these concerns in the short term ...
"It's essentially making sure that we have the right chemical solution and balance in place within the scrubber system to destroy the odours."
Depending on the material that's being "recycled" and the chemical solution in the scrubber, Bauer said,the science behind it always has to be adjusted because small fluctuations in production can affect odour levels.
"So it is something that always has to be optimized and fine-tuned."
Jay Brenton, regional director for the Department of Environment, said inspectors have been monitoring activity at the plant and he is confident that all regulations are being met.
"What they are doing in regard to the new process (regarding the chicken feathers), they put in a new cooker system and a lot of the work has been going on about tying that new cooker system into the scrubber system," he said.
"Apparently, they have to balance three scrubbers with whatever chemicals they use for cleaning the air that goes through them. And I think there's some piping modifications, like duct work and things of this nature they are doing there to optimize the scrubbers as well."
Bauer said he could not offer a time frame for when the smell might be reduced, but the company is aware of the impact it is having on the neighbouring community.
"We hear the concerns. We're putting in place an action plan we hope to enact quickly in the short term to further reduce the odours," he said. "We're hopeful within the next short while, I can't give the exact time, but what I can say is we're working on it and we're taking it very seriously."
That can't come soon enough for Truro Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann. Although the Lower Truro plant is located in Colchester County and is not within her constituency, Zann said both she and her constituents are being adversely affected by the strong smell being produced.
"It's pretty disgusting, isn't it?" she said.
"I've been thinking that this has been a problem for some time now. I mean I noticed it myself and it has definitely affected me. And I just think it's quite an intolerable situation and so I would really appreciate the sooner that the company can find the right balance, I think it's a serious concern."
Although Zann said the odour may not be harmful from a medical perspective, "per se," it nonetheless does have health consequences.
"I think that when most of us here who have felt it and smelled it, it makes us want to be sick to our stomach, which has happened to me on numerous occasions. That's not a healthy situation to be living in, so I think it would be good stewardship for the company to help us out and alleviate the smell as soon as possible," she said.
"Meanwhile, I think it is a very difficult situation for those of us who are being directly affected."