Multiple Airdrie business owners have spoken out against alleged pollution stemming from a nearby concrete facility they claim affects both their staff and customers, culminating in an air quality study to be completed in the next few weeks.
Brandon Urban, part owner of Western RV in Airdrie, has recently engaged an engineering firm to complete an air quality study of the area surrounding his business in order to quantify the effects of Tanas Concrete’s operations.
He said the study will provide an analysis of the chemical compounds of the dust left behind in neighbouring lots in the hopes of confirming his suspicions it contains heavy silica.
“It’s quite obvious that any dust emitted from Tanas is concrete – dust which contains silica can cause silicosis, which is a brutal condition for your lungs and it’s a serious and irreversible lung disease,” he said.
Urban added the air pollution poses additional risk to customers who enter his and neighbouring dealerships' lots during the COVID-19 pandemic – a time when many people’s immune systems and lungs are compromised.
“We have thousands of people visit our dealership every year and they walk around the lot and they’re exposed to [the dust],” he said. “It’s the same for other businesses in the area, [so] obviously we have some pretty big concerns.”
According to Urban, Tanas Concrete has been operating next door for approximately 10 years, with both noise and air pollution worsening since an explosion in 2016 left dust and particles throughout the industrial area.
He said he has approached the City of Airdrie several times regarding the issue but to no avail, acknowledging they have received his communication but have given no indication they would act on investigating the issue any further.
“As far as we’re concerned, the City has completely ignored the environmental impact and liability that may occur since they approved Tanas to occupy this location about 10 years ago,” he said. “It just continues to get worse day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year.
“We’ve reached our breaking point where staff complain, customers complain, and it’s quite the nuisance.”
According to the City of Airdrie, air pollution from an industrial site usually falls under the provincial government's jurisdiction, unless the Airdrie Fire Department is needed in response to a local emergency. The City declined to comment any further about the issue.
Similarly, Rob Urban, owner of Family RV Sales, said the pollution is a daily annoyance to his staff and customers.
“Monday to Friday, they’ve got that conveyer belt going in the hole behind where they dump their rocks, sand, and dust,” he said. “It’s right back up to our fence line, and when that conveyer belt is going, it’s so noisy you almost need to wear earplugs out there."
He added the constant dust in the area has not been ameliorated by Tanas’ street sweeping attempts.
“That doesn’t really cure the problem,” he said. “My parking lot here has got concrete, sand, and dust all over, behind the building, up against the building, and where I walk out to the yard, it's filled with sand and concrete powder."
According to Urban, environmental protocols in Canada require concrete facilities to have a paved yard, and employ washing and dust mitigation, along with other safety measures. However, he added as far as he can tell, these practices have not been adequately implemented.
He added according to Tanas’ development permit with the City of Airdrie, no offsite effects are permitted with their operation.
President of Tanas Concrete Industries, Josh Tanasiychuk, said the issue stems back to when they received their development permit from the City of Airdrie.
“[The City] did their due diligence to make sure we were zoned properly, so we are fully approved to be here with this type of business even with the surrounding businesses what they are,” he said.
Tanasiychuk added environmental entities have inspected the operations and have advised the company complies with all regulations under the Code of Practice and Alberta Environment.
“We’ve had the [Alberta Environment and Parks] called numerous times on this business with no repercussions,” he said. “They have observed what we’re doing, [and] the due diligence we’re taking with our dust collectors.
“Inherently, when you are transporting gravel or concrete, it is a dirty business.”
He added to his knowledge, Tanas is the only company in Airdrie that employs a street sweeper to sweep the nearby roadways in an effort “to be [a] good neighbour to our neighbours.”
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