After enduring years of fishy smells wafting in the air, neighbours of Richibucto's Coastal Shell Products are now breathing easier.
The crustacean shell-crushing factory was shut down on Thursday by the province for failing to properly store shell waste, according to a statement issued by the Environment Department.
"The company was not meeting one of its conditions of the approval. An inspector from the department confirmed odours were being generated by the improper storage of shell waste on the company's property," said Environment Minister Gary Crossman.
The company now has to come up with a plan "to bring it back into compliance," said Crossman, and that plan has to be approved by the department before the company is allowed to reopen.
Coastal Shell Products, formerly known as Omera Shells, describes itself on its website as a "crustacean shell drying facility." It's been operating out of a 2,800-square-metre building on Morgan Street for seven years.
The plant grinds, heats and processes old lobster and snow crab shells and shrimp skins, turning the remains into a powder that's used for fertilizer and animal feed.
Smell detected 12 km away, says mayor
Nearby residents, and parents of a school on the same street, have long complained about the smell coming from the plant.
Residents and parents of École Soleil Levant, which is separated from the plant by a narrow stand of trees, had long complained about the smell and put up Stop the Stink signs. They said the stench often forced the children to stay inside all day.
Arnold Vautour, the mayor of Beaurivage — the newly created entity that includes Richibucto — said the company had been storing seafood products outside, rather than refrigerated inside, as they were required to do.
Vautour said the smell has been reported from as far as 12 kilometres away. But for the plant's closest neighbours, he said the smell was unbearable — and persistent.
"The people living right next door to it, is like, really bad, bad, bad for them because they have it every day," said Vautour.
He said it's particularly frustrating for the closest neighbours, including a daycare centre and seniors home.
"For them, they're living almost every day with that smell," said Vautour.
"They can't enjoy their their property, they can't enjoy their place. That smell is inside their home and they can't enjoy the outside — having a barbecue and so on and so on.
"And this has been going on now since 2016. So we need to fix that problem ASAP. And it needs to be done."
If they can't fix it, said Vautour, then council wants the company relocated or shut down.
Coastal Shell Products did not respond to a request for an interview on Friday afternoon.