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The Edmonton Waste Management Centre includes a sanitary landfill, a landfill gas treatment facility, a leachate treatment plant, a large lagoon system for the storage of anaerobically digested sewage sludge (biosolids), a solid waste-biosolids composting facility, and a solid waste recycling facility. In addition, the Centre is surrounded by a variety of industries including three chemical plants, two asphalt plants, three feed mills, a rendering plant, a mushroom farm, a chicken farm, and a municipal sewage treatment plant.

Over the years, the City of Edmonton has received complaints that have been attributed to one or more sources at or near the Waste Management Centre. Because of the large number of potential odor sources, determining the source of the odor complaint was difficult. Further, a large solid waste-sludge composting facility was placed in operation in 2000 and the City's intent was to not increase ambient odor levels in the area due to this new potential odor source. Thus, the City of Edmonton was interested in developing a program to objectively monitor odor levels in the community.

In November of 1997, Bowker & Associates, Inc, in concert with McGinley Associates, P.A., developed such a program, consisting of:

Training of designated City odor “inspectors” to estimate odor intensity and character, and record meteorological data.

Developing a citizen odor observer program

Developing a standard odor survey route that encompassed all of the major odor sources

Preparing odor survey forms

Tabulating and analyzing data

To date, there have been three reports summarizing the odor inspector data for 1997–1998, 2000–2001, and 2002. Over 7,000 separate odor observations have been recorded since the start of the program. Data have been analyzed several different ways, including:

source vs. odor intensity

source vs. frequency of odor detection

frequency of odor characters and suspected sources for each character

odor intensity vs. character

odor intensity vs. location of observation

frequency of odor detection at each observation location

potential sources identified at each observation location

odor intensity vs. meteorological conditions

Significant conclusions resulting from the data analysis include:

Sources with the highest frequency of odor detection included the biosolids lagoons, the composting facility, a large chemical plant, the feed mills, and the mushroom farm

Sources with the highest average odor intensity included the biosolids lagoons, asphalt plants, and the mushroom farm

The most frequent odor characters and associated sources were “vinegary” (chemical plant), “sludge” (biosolids lagoons), “garbage” (composting facility), “manure” (mushroom farm and chicken farm), “asphalt” (asphalt plants), “burnt” (rendering plant), and “pet food” (feed mills).

There appeared to be little or no correlation between weather conditions and odor detection frequency or odor intensity.

The City of Edmonton considers the ambient odor monitoring program around the Edmonton Waste Management Centre to be successful for the following reasons:

it has provided a comprehensive inventory of odor sources and their characteristics

it has allowed an assessment of the impact of the composting facility on ambient odor levels

it has prompted efforts to abate odors from the most significant sources

The City plans to continue the program for the foreseeable future, with greater focus on conducting surveys in response to complaints, and conducting surveys during peak complaint periods.

This paper will present a description of the inspector training programs, the odor inspection protocols, examples of data summaries and statistical analyses, and the conclusions from the program.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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