AYLESFORD, NS – Kenneth Bower has questions about a new contract that will see all compost collected from the Annapolis Valley processed at a facility in Colchester County.
Bower is an accountant for Northridge Farms N.S., the Aylesford facility that will continue processing compostable materials collected by Valley Waste Resource Management until April 1, 2018, when the Fundy Compost composting facility in Brookfield will take over the contract.
Bower says his questions go beyond his professional bias as Northridge’s accountant, and come instead from a personal investment in composting.
“I’ve composted for years, and so my main concern here is the environment. There are several points that do not line up, and have lead to growing concern for me,” he said.
Presenting all information could have changed vote: Bower
The waste authority, meeting with representatives appointed by each municipality in the Annapolis Valley, voted in favour of awarding the contract to the Brookfield facility at the Nov. 15 meeting, for services to begin Apr. 1, 2018.
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Wondering why the switch had been made, Bower began looking into the new contract’s terms that same week, and was struck by how little information he found.
He says he found nearly no information available on why the decision was made, other than it was a cheaper option. Prices have not been confirmed, but Bower believes Fundy Compost’s per tonne price was around $20 lower than Northridge’s, and that he has zero proof of anything other than this price point being considered.
Bower also questions why the facilities were compared as similar options when the systems they use for processing the compost – an open windrow, or row of compost, at the Brookfield facility compared to a closed on beneath concrete at Northridge – are completely different.
He has filed several Freedom of Information requests and has received acknowledgements confirming some are being processed, and is awaiting answers.
“I don’t believe those voting were shown how different these facilities were, since no one questioned any of this,” he said.
“Would they have voted differently had they been presented with all of the options? It’s not possible to tell.”
Environmental concerns, and others
The open facility plan is of concern to Bower, who says smells could be the least of local citizens' concerns.
He feels run off from the facility’s outdoor leachate management system, which stores drainage from the facility in a pond to keep it from seeping into other water sources, could “leak into the stream at the bottom of the property.”
Bower is also concerned with the mileage trucks will travel while transporting the compost to the Brookfield site, which is 215 kilometres from downtown Annapolis Royal, and the extra emissions this will cause.
These trucks will also lead to the loss of seven local jobs.
“There are seven employees who truck compost to Northridge who will lose out because of this. That’s a loss of local industry,” he said.
“That... should concern everyone.”
Capacity a possible issue at Brookfield facility
Fundy Compost’s website states it diverts 12,000 tonnes of material from landfills every year. Bower has also confirmed the facility’s composting capacity under environmental assessments sits at 12,000 tonnes.
This new contract will see the facility process 1,500 from a current contract and another 10,500 from the Annapolis Valley, a total calculated before the system was changed to include cat litter, which Bower figures could mean a significant increase.
Bower hopes his worries are abated by answered questions that will come once his information requests receive replies.
“If I’m wrong about these things, I’d be happy, absolutely, but the longer it takes for this information to come forward, the more suspicious it becomes,” he said.
“The bottom line is until my questions are answered, these concerns aren’t going anywhere.”
Fundy Compost did not respond by deadline to questions on whether changes have been made to allow for extra compost tonnage.