Environmental Release to Air and Issues with Odours

Posted by on Jan 11, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

An article from last summer discusses why environmental management is a great educational/career path this way, “You can change the world for the better.” That’s a nice sound bite for university recruiting, but perhaps a bit idealistic.

Nowhere in university recruiting material are you likely to find them promoting the often mundane reporting requirements, limited budgets with increased responsibilities, or the headaches when, despite your best efforts, you have to deal with an issue that has unfortunately, grabbed the community’s attention. But “it” happens.

Ugly Orange Cloud

Such was the case on Christmas Day, 2020 when loud noises were heard followed by a plume into the atmosphere at the ArcelorMittal Dofasco plant in Hamilton, ON. One person described the incident as a couple of loud bangs and an ugly orange cloud.   This video captures the plume from a couple of viewpoints.

According to the CBC, “The provincial government says it has requested a ‘detailed report’ investigating the explosion at a steel factory in Hamilton, which sent clouds of brown and red smoke into the air on Christmas day.”


Releases to the atmosphere or odour issues are typically going to get the public’s attention. Note: not the subject site (Photo by King Buwa on Unsplash).

ArcelorMittal in a statement said, “The reaction was between water and primarily liquid iron and would have been comprised of mostly iron, iron oxide, and water vapour, as well as silica, calcium, magnesium, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.”

Lynda Lukasik, executive director of Environment Hamilton said, “Normally, to their credit, they’ve got a system in place there that is really designed to handle the slag in probably the best way that these mills can handle it right now.”

The news reports did not say when the detailed report from AcelorMittal would be available.


Rendering facilities deal with undesirable by-products such as used cooking oil, meat by-products from slaughterhouses, and animal mortalities from farms. They recycle what would otherwise be waste.

According to the North American Renderers Association, “People use rendered products every day in soaps, paints, varnishes, lubricants, caulking compounds, candles, cleaners, paints, polishes, rubber products, plastics, fertilizers, and even explosives.”

As you can imagine, one of the more significant challenges at rendering plants is managing odour. If you have ever lived or worked near a rendering plant (and I know those who have), the odour can be “significant.” Controlling odours of any kind is not a simple task.

Environmental Compliance Approval for Expanding Facility

The issue of odour came up recently as an expansion to the Rothsay rendering plant in Moorefield, ON triggered a new Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) by the Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks. A condition on the ECA document sets out odour performance limits and an odour management plan.

Several years ago (in 2004), the plant under different ownership (Maple Leaf Foods) was fined $75,000 for exceeding odour limits, not submitting a consultants report, and installing equipment without approval.

Environmental Review Tribunal

According to GulephToday, Duff More, Plant Manager at the Rothsay rendering plant said, “The amended ECA places certain conditions on Rothsay’s operations notably new odour emission limits that may not be (consistently) achievable and thus may result in stoppages.

Darling International Canada, parent company of Rothsay, has filed an appeal of an order that is currently pending before the Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal.

Support from the Community

The company is seeking support from the community in their appeal, not on the environmental/technical aspects, but on Rothsay’s positive impact on the community. As stated in the Wellington Advertiser, “Two north Wellington municipalities have agreed to provide a resolution acknowledging the positive impact of the Rothsay rendering plant on the local economy and agriculture industry, to back the company’s appeal before Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal on a planned expansion.”

How much this support may help Rothsay’s efforts before the Tribunal is unknown.

Dealing with operational hiccups and the subsequent community relations may not be saving the world but it is a realistic aspect of environmental management. And it can be rewarding when balance between operations, environmental protection, and protecting the community protected are all achieved.

If you need assistance with an environmental issue, feel free to contact me at 519-948-7300, Ext. 114.

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