Lactalis plans 10 days of smelly sludge stirring, pumping for a final time

A 2017 photo of the Winchester cheese plant, which has switched its name to Lactalis. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

WINCHESTER — Approximately 10 days of old sludge removal from the Lactalis lagoons will get underway shortly as a final step in the company’s five-phase wastewater treatment upgrade. The activity is expected to start in mid April and  run until the end of May, depending on weather conditions.

The multi-million-dollar modernization project, which began in 2017, is otherwise fully operational now, according to the cheesemaker. The upgrade was meant to improve the wastewater treatment process and cut the seasonal odour problems associated with the plant for decades.

Starting in mid April, the sludge extraction work will cause a temporary flashback to the way things were, the company concedes.  “Residents may notice an odour associated with this process in the  Winchester area. We recognize this temporary odour can be unpleasant for residents and appreciate the community’s patience and understanding over this period as we conduct this process,” Lactalis says in a statement.

“Going forward, organic matter will be processed in an entirely new manner, minimizing associated odours,” the company says.

In the meantime, a ‘mixing’ vessel will be deployed to stir the lagoons, and the sludge emptied and pumped through a pipeline to serve as fertilizer on a field two kilometres northwest of the plant.

“As a proud member of Winchester and as part of our continued commitment to the environment and  our community, Lactalis Canada would like to assure all residents that we will take all measures  possible to mitigate the effect of this work on the community and thank you for your support and understanding during this time,” the company says. “Lactalis Canada will provide any updates should there be any changes  to the scheduled timeline.”

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