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Clean air committee concerned N.B. shell-drying plant will receive significant government funding

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For years now, residents in the town of Beaurivage, N.B., have complained about odours coming from the Coastal Shell Products plant.

Crystal Desharnais, the owner of Crystal's Emporium Thrift & Furniture on Main Street, called the smell atrocious, and said the staff and customers often notice it.

“It's such a terrible smell. People can't even go outside and do basic things like barbecue and enjoy themselves. There's so many seniors in this community. Their quality of life is just absolutely crushed by that,” said Desharnais.

A possible solution could be in the works.

In a statement to CTV News, Coastal Shell Products general manager Jamie Goguen said the company is preparing the funding to be able to commit to a significant capital investment project worth close to $2 million that is designed for efficient handling of facility emissions.

The Kent Clear Air Action Committee (KCAAC) have been fighting to have the plant either closed or relocated.

In a news release sent Monday, the KCAAC says they've secured a document through the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act that states Coastal Shell Products is seeking significant funding from the provincial and federal governments to take steps to help mitigate the smell and increase productivity.

The committee says the company submitted a three-stage project plan to the Department of Environment and Local Government (DELG) at an estimated total cost of around $2.7 million.

The projects are for the elimination of odours coming from the shell drying process, as well as the odours inside the facility and from the raw product receiving area, and to increase productivity and distribute products to a wider market.

According to the committee, 75 per cent of the funding would come from the province, Opportunities New Brunswick (ONB) and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) with Coastal Shell Products picking up the other 25 per cent.

KCAAC spokesperson Maisie McNaughton doesn't understand why the taxpayer could possibly be on the hook for three-quarters of the project.

“I don't even have words. I don't understand why myself as a taxpayer and the people of Beaurivage and New Brunswick as a whole and Canada as a whole should be paying for this nightmare to continue,” said McNaughton.

Coastal Shell Products processes crustacean shells and turns them into a variety of products such as fertilizer.

Goguen said as part of the conditions on Coastal Shell Products’ approval to operate from the DELG, the company has provided extensive details on a number of initiatives that will address the concerns of the public.

CTV News asked Goguen if the company has applied for federal or provincial funding yet.

“We are in discussions with both levels of government around these projects to see if some support might be available,” said Goguen.

A spokesperson for ONB said it has not provided any financial assistance to Coastal Shell Products and has no active funding agreement with them.

ACOA gave a similar response, saying the agency has no project with Coastal Shell Products.

Applying for government funding doesn't sit well with Desharnais who says there's no guarantee any new project will stop the stink.

“Whether that's just going to prolong the problem or solve it isn't clear. To me that money would be better spent helping relocate them,” said Desharnais.

Kent North MLA Kevin Arseneau said he has been told since 2018 that the company would fix the smell.

“I have lost confidence in their ability to find proven technology and to finance it,” said Arseneau in an email to CTV News. “That being said, I continue to believe that the plant is not situated in a proper area and should be moved. That would be what is best for the residents and the well-being of the community.”

The province has received 455 complaints about the smell so far this year.

The outside of the Coastal Shell Products Plant near Beaurivage, New Brunswick. (Courtest: Derek Haggett)

Goguen said the owners and management of Coastal Shell Products have heard the concerns and are committed to dealing with them appropriately.

“It’s important to know that extensive tests and analyses have been completed and the design of a new system is progressing well. Coastal Shell will continue to work with the Department of Environment to meet all requirements and regulations,” said Goguen in the statement.

He went on to say the company is an important supplier of the province’s seafood processing industry.

“Our work diverts processing waste from landfills and creates sought after consumer and industry value-added products,” said Goguen. “Our work supports ten processing facilities in New Brunswick who, without Coastal Shell, would have a hard time finding a place to discard their processed shells.”

The goal is to work with the community toward a "harmonious solution" to the issues it currently faces.

DELG spokesperson Heather Pert said they continue to monitor odours from the processing facility through frequent site visits and odour surveys.

Pert said the department required the company to submit an odour control plan, with timelines, for the installation of new odour control equipment.

The approval includes restriction of operation times which prevents the operation of the plant between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

The current approval expires on July 31.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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