Metro Vancouver trying to determine source of bad smell in Walnut Grove

Complaints about smell have come forward for months, and there have been at least nine 911 calls, as people feared gas leaks.

Blame it on the weather, blame it on other industrial or agricultural businesses but whatever stinks in north Langley — it isn’t likely the Northwest Langley Wastewater Treatment Plant, says Metro Vancouver.

While it recognizes the treatment plant, located under the south side of the Golden Ears Bridge, does produce odours which “can be detected while on the bridge and in the immediate vicinity” — those smelling something unpleasant two kilometres away might be smelling something else, suggests Simon So, GM of Metro Vancouver’s liquid waste service.

“Following recent complaints from concerned residents in Walnut Grove, investigations by Environmental Regulation and Enforcement of Metro Vancouver indicate that the odours are unlikely to be from the wastewater treatment plant given that the detected odours are uncharacteristic of our facility, which is more than two kilometres away from the affected area,” writes So in a response to a Times letter writer who works near the plant and said the smell is giving all the staff headaches.

“The northwest portion of Langley Township contains many industrial and agricultural operations that emit strong odours, making it difficult to pinpoint a specific source,” So continues.

“We are, however, continuing investigations to track down the primary source of the recent odours. The situation is exacerbated by the current atmospheric inversion that is preventing air from circulating out of the area.

“My colleagues and I sympathize with the people living and working in Walnut Grove who are being affected by nuisance odours, and are working closely with the Township of Langley staff to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

In December 2014, Township Councillor Michelle Sparrow asked Metro Vancouver to investigate after she expressed her concerns about the “toxic-smelling” odour that has caused her and her fellow Walnut Grove neighbours to close their windows and not go outdoors.

A  report to council by fire chief Stephen Gamble showed there have been several complaints about unpleasant smells in the Walnut Grove area of the Township dating back to August.

In nine cases, people have called 911, worried the smell was a potentially explosive gas leak.

The Township engineering department has ordered increased cleaning and flushing of the sewage treatment system, including adding a “masking agent” and installing filters.

And So said they recently made improvements at the plant to minimize odours.

After Sparrow asked for Metro Vancouver to investigate in December, The Times online story had responses from numerous Walnut Grove residents saying it is so bad at times that guests have been unable to visit.

Metro Vancouver takes odour complaints very seriously and respond quickly to issues related to the operations of its facilities, So stresses.

Walnut Grove residents who get a whiff of something unpleasant are being advised by Township staff to report it to Metro Vancouver’s 24-hour air quality complaint line at 604-436-6777.

 

— with files from Dan Ferguson