There has been a lot of talk about Evraz-Navajo, Lynnwood Ridge and the issues of noise and explosions lately.
I want all residents of Lynnwood Ridge and Millican-Ogden to know that I have been working with The City, Lynnwood Ridge residents, the Millican-Ogden Community Association, and the leadership of Evraz-Navajo to find a solution to this issue since it was first brought to my attention when I was first elected to represent the amazing community of Ogden in 2010.
While things have gotten remarkably better since I’ve started working on this matter, there are still instances when the commercial practices of Evraz-Navajo conflict with the neighbourhood.
This tension between Evraz-Navajo and Lynnwood Ridge residents has been happening since 1992 and while I’m proud of the forward movement on this file and the improvements that have been made, things aren’t where they need to be and I will continue working to find a long-term solution for all parties.
Background and Timeline
For those who may not be familiar with this issue, Evraz-Navajo is a licensed scrap metal recycling salvage yard and auto wrecker that has been licensed since the 1960s.
Working with Calgary Business Licensing, further inquiries were made with the Calgary Fire Department and Calgary Police Service for calls for service histories.
From April of 2010 to June of 2014, Calgary Fire Department had responded to 22 calls for service to the Evraz-Navajo - 9 appear to be related to a call for a fire and 1 appears to be related to an explosion. Additionally, there were 7 calls for service noted as “No incident found on arrival at dispatch address” which may or may not be related to fire and/or explosions. The remaining 5 appear to be unrelated to The City’s investigation.
At the same time, from January 1, 2014, to July 2, 2014, Calgary Police Service responded to 15 calls for service to the property which included 7 noise complaints, 4 explosion complaints and 1 fire complaint, and 3 unrelated matters.
What’s been done
On January 20, 2015, your Team Ward 9, the Millican-Ogden Community Association President Rick Smith and I met with senior leadership at Evraz-Navajo to discuss the concerns of residents regarding the explosions they were experiencing.
At this meeting we learned that Evraz-Navajo was aware of the issues and were actively working to improve their operations. Some of those improvements included conducting a four-phase inspection procedure to minimize prohibited items from entering their systems (such as pressurized gas cylinders and fuel tanks).
During the meeting, Evraz-Navajo’s Manager of Technical and Environmental Services explained that the main reason for explosions were that pressurized gas cylinders were being hidden the items sold to them in order to increase the weight of the metal being sold for scrap. Evraz-Navajo’s records show that they are good, although not perfect, at removing all incendiary devices before the metal is entered into their feedstock. To be fair to Evraz-Navajo it is worth noting that 800 to 900 tonnes of scrap metal is being processed at this facility per day.
I am of the mind that they must continue and improve upon their efforts to increase quality control procedures.
After reviewing Evraz-Navajo’s records and procedures, the records of Bylaw, Licensing, Environmental & Safety Management (City of Calgary) and speaking with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, our office confirmed that Evraz-Navajo had reduced the number of noise-related incidents from 52 vehicle explosions in 2013 to a record low of 21 in 2014.
Evraz-Navajo admitted that they would not be able to completely eliminate noise-related incidents as scrap yards are not quite commercial and industrial uses. In saying that, they were aware of, and sensitive to, the concerns of residents and agreed to work with residents and improve their internal quality control mechanisms.
Beginning December 17, 2014, Evraz-Navajo implemented new policies to seek to further reduce the occurrence of noise-related incidents. These new policies culminated in a revised and more stringent vehicle acceptance criteria which included:
- The removal of the fuel tanks from the vehicle;
- The removal of propane tanks from the vehicle; and
- Removal of mercury switches and other potentially incendiary devices.
While I was pleased with this meeting, I indicated to all parties that my role was to ensure that Evraz-Navajo got as close to 0 with their explosions as possible and commit to forming a much better relationship with the residents of Lynnwood Ridge and the community association.
While the trend line for the explosions have steadily been decreasing, they weren’t getting to where they needed to be, and apparently continued to interfere with the residents’ enjoyment of their homes.
On March 11, 2015, a ‘Notice of Hearing’ was served on the business. In May of 2015 after a pre-hearing meeting, Evraz-Navajo, through Counsel, committed to a number of items to improve safety for both the public and its employees. Additionally, the business committed to providing records and plans of equipment used, records of employee training, records of explosions, confirmation of fire suppression systems, a commitment to prevent smoke from leaving the site, and assessment of emissions from the site to evaluate odour and irritation concerns.
As a result of this meeting and commitment, the hearing was not convened.
Between June 2015 to March 2016, Compliance Services received allegations of 20 explosions from residents and adjacent businesses, with the business reporting 6 explosions during this time frame.
In 2016, an investigation was conducted following citizen complaints about excessive noise, explosions, fire hazards and contaminated air (pollution) originating from Evraz-Navajo Metals. The investigation involved Business Licensing, Bylaw Services, and the Calgary Fire Department.
As a result, The City issued mandatory conditions in a letter advising Evraz-Navajo Metals of conditions that had to be met in order to maintain their business license (The City is given this authority under the Business License Bylaw).
While complaints continue, to date Evraz-Navajo Metals has been found to be in compliance with municipal bylaws and provincial legislation. All complaints are being diligently investigated by The City as they come in.
Bylaw has conducted an investigation into the noise violations and is currently reviewing the allegations with the Law Department. The City and the Ward 9 Office is committed to finding a win-win-win solution that respect and successfully balances the needs and operations of businesses with the right to residents to enjoy their homes.
The City and I take all citizen complaints seriously. While we continue to work with the residents and Evraz-Navajo towards a long-term solution, The City has imposed a number of conditions on the company in order to ensure that compliance continues from the business and they can continue their operations with clear and concise expectations from The City and to create a mechanism whereby residents can hold The City accountable on following up on their complaints. These conditions include:
- The Licensee, whether by principal or agent, shall comply with both the Alberta Fire Code and Safety Codes Act.
- The Licensee, whether by principal or agent, shall comply with the Community Standards Bylaw as it pertains to both noise and nuisance escaping the property.
- The Licensee shall ensure that no activity involving the crushing or shredding of material that is likely to, or has been demonstrated to cause an explosion and/or a noise that disturbs, occurs after 6 PM.
- The Licensee shall maintain a list of each and every explosion/fire incident that occurs and have that list available upon demand for inspection by a Police Officer, Safety Codes Officer or Licence Inspector.
- The Licensee shall immediately satisfy the direction of the Calgary Fire Department pertaining to the explosions occurring on site.
- The Licensee shall report any explosion/fire incident that occurs no later than 24 hours after such incident to the Calgary Fire Department and Calgary Compliance Service member(s) identified.
- The Licensee shall test, at its own expense, at point of origin including at the point where the private property borders adjacent properties, the smoke, dust or other airborne matter that has been shown to be escaping from the property and provide the results to the City of Calgary in order that this smoke, dust or other airborne matter may be shown to not have a deleterious effect on the Public at large.
- The Licensee shall provide confirmation of the installation of the fire suppression system for the motor room, being a record from a third party fire suppression system company.
The Licensee shall maintain annual maintenance records and provide the records to the Calgary Fire Department on demand.
I will continue to work with Evraz-Navajo, MOCA and the residents of Millican-Ogden-Lynnwood to encourage and help facilitate dialogue and create neighbourly relations.
As always, my office is available to speak with you, and address your concerns regarding this, or any other issue that you have.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at 403-268-5330. If you’re on social media, I would encourage you to follow my online pages to get updates.