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.

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won a $1-million prize with Lotto 6/49. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won the $1-million prize in a Lotto 6/49 draw. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen wins Lotto 6/49 $1-million prize

Ticket was purchased at Abbotsford’s FreshCo for the March 6, 2021 draw

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
Former Chilliwack man charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Prolific offender Kao Macaulay, 23, accused of breaking into home on March 30

The City of Chilliwack website now has a panel full of customization options for people with disabilities, including an ADHD Friendly Profile. (chilliwack.com)
VIDEO: City of Chilliwack website offers new options for people with disabilities

The website now has a panel allowing users to adjust just about everything to suit individual needs

Williams Lake RCMP arrested a man Saturday, March 13 near Wildwood in vehicle stolen in Quesnel. (RCMP logo)
UPDATE: Chilliwack woman missing since March 17 found safe and sound

RCMP thanks the media and public for assistance

Workers were on scene to clean up the oil spill in Abbotsford at Trans Mountain Pipeline’s Sumas pump station in June 2020. (File photo by Shane MacKichan)
TSB releases final report on June 2020 oil spill in Abbotsford

Transportation Safety Board says pipeline fitting to blame for spill of up to 190K litres

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of B.C. man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Greater Vancouver still driving more, taking transit less

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Most Read