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

The paraglider pilot, while attempting to free himself, dropped 30 feet and sustained serious injuries as Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue members worked quickly to extract him from the trees. They were able to get him to a waiting ambulance at the end of a nearby forest service road. (Contributed Photo/Dave Harder)
Lower Mainland Search and Rescue saves paraglider in treetop rescue

Pilot tried to self-rescue but sustained serious injuries in a 30-foot fall

An original piece of artwork by Rosie Laponder, was stolen along with various art supplies from Julie Ann’s Art and Custom Framing in Chilliwack on Nov. 28, 2020. (Submitted image)
Thieves steal original artwork, art supplies from Chilliwack store

‘It kind of makes you sick to your stomach,’ says store manager

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
Violent crime spree involving knife ends in arrest in Chilliwack

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Hope Secondary School. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Update: Fourth COVID-19 exposure at Hope Secondary School confirmed

Hope high school the only school in Fraser Cascade to experience multiple exposures

Abbotsford's Jada Klein
Abbotsford’s Jada Klein releases debut EP

Fresh off FVMA win, Robert Bateman grad’s ‘Always, Forever’ album arrives online

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Most Read