Shape up or be shut down, city council puts Wessuc on notice

Wessuc Land Coordinator Adrian Simpson speaks to Sarnia council. June 27, 2022

Sarnia council has made it clear that Wessuc Inc. must improve its performance or it could be shut down.

The company’s land coordinator, Adrian Simpson, was put on the hot seat Monday during his presentation about the benefits of biosolids and the odour challenges at the Scott Road site.

Mayor Mike Bradley said while he appreciated the face-to-face, efforts taken so far to mitigate the smell are not meeting the expectation of the community.

“What I think you’re underestimating is that we have several thousand odour experts in this community and we’ve been hearing from them for two months now,” said Bradley.

Mayor Bradley said some residents have been physically sick from the smell.

“It’s not like you’re out in the middle of some farmer’s field, you’re in the heart of a city and those odours are going over to thousands of people. This is not just a technical thing with some odour experts, we expect solutions and if not, I would come to this council and say, ‘we want to talk to the Minister of Environment and local MPP’s and shut them down until they resolve their issues.'”

Councillor Brian White has also fielded calls.

“There’s nothing quite like getting a phone call at 10 o’clock at night and hearing from somebody who is completely frustrated, can’t open their windows, doesn’t have air conditioning because they’ve always managed to survive that way until now,” said White. It’s not because they can’t handle the heat, obviously, it’s because they can’t open their windows because of the smell.”

When asked what went wrong, Simpson said they had farmers on board and a land licence ready to go to clean out the lagoon to start from fresh, but the weather and soil didn’t cooperate with sporadic spring rain.

“That was a big piece of the puzzle that didn’t quite fall into place,” Simpson said.

Simpson believes Wessuc is close to a solution where neighbours will be presented with an odour free backyard.

“There will probably always be a slight odour around the facility, but there should be an elimination by the time it gets to the neighbourhood,” he said. “The only time where we would foresee that maybe spiking up again would be in an application time, where we’re actually removing material from the lagoon, in which case notices would go out to the neighbours that this would be our haulage time.”

Simpson said a frac tank has been installed underground to store biosolids, they continue to work with odour specialists and are actively seeking local farmers interested in applying the material to their land.

Wessuc has also stopped receiving material until the odour situation improves.

The City of Sarnia sent a letter to the province last week asking that enforcement action be increased at the site.

The Brantford company issued a letter to Sarnia residents apologizing for foul odours at the beginning of the month.