Mill pleads guilty to odour release

Abitibi-Consolidated here was fined $5,000 in provincial court Friday after pleading guilty to one count of discharging a contaminant into the natural environment that caused or was likely to cause an adverse effect.
A joint submission between prosecutor Marlene Wilson and Abitibi counsel Dennis Mahony also agreed the mill would make a $15,000 contribution to Riverside Foundation for Health Care to purchase a respiratory machine for La Verendrye hospital here.
The court ordered that contribution be made within 30 days.
Another count of discharging a contaminant into the natural environment was withdrawn.
The charges dated back to February, 1996 when the Ministry of Environment office in Kenora said it received more than 35 complaints about the odour here.
Abitibi-Consolidated said the source of the problem was a condensate stripper, which knocks odorous gasses out of the air releaser. That machine has been shut down since, noted Gary Rogozinski, Abitibi’s environmental director here.
“From our standpoint, what we wanted to emphasis was that it was a $20,000 penalty,” noted Brent Holmstrom, an investigator with the MoE in Kenora, explaining that was within the range with what has happened in other parts of the province.
He added the court-ordered contribution to a local cause was becoming more of a trend with the negotiated settlements.
“That’s been a practise that we’ve done for some time,” Holmstrom said, adding most of those fined preferred to see the dollars stay local rather than go into the province’s general fund.
When the two sides entered negotiations, Holmstrom noted the ministry came in with a much higher figure while Abitibi came in with a much lower one. What was agreed upon was about the middle, Holmstrom said.
Rogozinski said the negotiated settlement included the voluntary $15,000 contribution, as well as the withdrawing of the other charge.
Meanwhile, to correct the odour control system and further reduce emissions, Rogozinski said the mill is well into its $9-million capital project.
They were finalizing the engineering prints and the equipment was ordered, with tie-ins slated during the shutdown slated for the end of April/early May, he explained.
Construction is slated to start in late July, with the mill looking to start up all the new equipment by early December.
“It will be completed by the end of the year,“ Rogozinski assured.
Two major components include a dedicated incinerator for burning all the gases–making it the first pulp and paper mill in Ontario to have such an incinerator–as well as the condensate stripper.
Rogozinski said the money also was being spent in anticipation of more stringent standards slated to come in at the end of the year. They’re currently negotiating with the ministry to look at voluntary reductions rather than imposed limits, he added.
“We haven’t had much success with that,” he admitted.
Meanwhile, Holmstrom said the MoE hasn’t received many complaints about odour problems here.
“Nothing that has been turned over to me for investigation,” he added.
“We have a number of complaints every year but mostly from the lagoon,” Rogozinski said.