A photo taken by Ministry of Environment inspectors on Nov. 22, 2018. The photo shows manure runoff on the south side of the storage facility. Ministry of Environment photo.

Toxic smell returns to Abbotsford elementary school raising health concerns for students, teachers and parents

King Traditional Elementary suffers daily from neighbouring waste-storage facility’s stench

A toxic stench has returned to an Abbotsford elementary school, raising health concerns for parents, teachers and students.

The lingering smell became a problem soon after the property across from King Traditional Elementary was purchased by the fertilizer company 93 Land Company Ltd. in March 2017, according to parents at the school.

Ministry of the Environment inspection officers found the company was in violation of the Environmental Management Act for improper storage and importation of manure in October 2017.

The company has received three official warnings of non-compliance since that first inspection and was fined $20,000 on the third warning in November 2018.

“The waste storage facilities do not have air emission control systems to collect or treat dust and other potential air contaminants generated,” the most recent inspection report reads.

After the fine, the smell improved for the last half of the 2018 school year but has now returned, according to Sukhjinder Baer, a mother of two students at the school.

“My oldest daughter always brings her lunch back without eating and says, ‘I cannot eat Momma because of the smell,’” Baer said. “She hasn’t eaten her breakfast the last two weeks. She says even if she tries to eat something in the morning she feels nauseated later.”

Students immediately cover their noses after being dropped off by their parents in the morning, said Kam Rai, a father of a student at the school.

“[The kids] don’t deserve this and it’s counter-productive to them having a healthy memory of being a student,” Rai said.

Students and staff have reported headaches, nausea, breathing issues and sore throats from the smell.

Teachers made 15 WorkSafeBC complaints citing these symptoms from March 2017 to November in 2018, according to a board of education staff report from the same month.

RELATED: Stink at Abbotsford school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

“[The people running the company] really just don’t care, they’re in non-compliance and they’re continuing to operate,” said Shannon Gaudette, a parent at the school who has been trying to fix the problem for two years.

“Ethical businesses, if they’re in non-compliance would shut down operations until they were.”

Gaudette says the school’s administration and the district have been slow to react to parents’ concern. She organized a petition that was sent to the board of education in January 2018 and signed by over 300 parents, but she says she never received a response.

A school district staff report from November 2018 said the district was meeting with the owners to decrease the impact of the odour, undertaking air quality investigations, installing special filters in the school’s HVAC system and encouraging parents to contact the Ministry of Environment air pollution complaint line.

But parents were recently told by the school’s principal, Tyler Baruta, they cannot hand out the phone number of the ministry’s pollution complaint line on school grounds, according to several parents.

Gaudette said she was told by Baruta that the issue is “political,” and because the ministry’s pollution complaint line was not on a school district form, it couldn’t be distributed on school property.

RELATED: Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

“This is about the health and wellness of your students and your teachers,” Gaudette said. “It’s beyond me, it’s hardly political.”

Parents who send their kids to school on the bus may be unaware of the health risks to their children, said Josephine Leonard, a mother and lunch-hour supervisor.

“We are a public school – I feel that we have a right to share facts about the situation with other parents. It is completely baffling why the district and administration does not support us,” Leonard said.

Rai said if the smell is not improved soon he’s considering moving his daughter to a different school – at her request.

“She’s asked a couple times, and she has friends there,” Rai said.

The school district and 93 Land Company did not response to The News’s inquiry by the time of press.

Baer says her family is very upset with the school district and the issue should be taken more seriously.

“It’s not about my child, it’s not about one child, if it’s about school, then it’s about everyone’s children.”

RELATED: Manure company causing ‘toxic’ stink at Abbotsford school seeks permit


@portmoodypigeon
patrick.penner@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

City ready for ride-hailing, says Delta mayor

The city has set up business licence fees for ride-hailing on par with what taxis in Delta pay

The ‘Upside Down’ is coming to Surrey with ‘One Man Stranger Things’ parody

Charles Ross one-man act based on first two seasons of hit Netflix show

Surrey-area teens will have a ball at Christmas, thanks to collection effort

Realty company’s Bring on the Balls campaign now in its third year

South Surrey mom adds festive touch to late son’s Spirit Garden tree

Christmas twinkle adds ‘a little bit of joy at a difficult time’

Surrey councillor wants the policing transition process to ‘immediately stop’

Brenda Locke to make motion at Dec. 16 meeting to reconsider current plan

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in 2017 Stanley Park stabbing

Lubomir Kunik was found by a man out walking his dog on the beach late on Feb. 1, 2017

Vancouver homeless camp brings community, safety, home, says resident

Encampment in the city’s Downtown Eastside is one of many that have sprung up in B.C.

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Most Read