About 50 residents of Beaurivage, a rural community in Kent County, piled into a bus to head to the Moncton Law Courts on Friday.
They were there to attend the hearing for a temporary injunction to shut down the Coastal Shell drying facility for the duration of ongoing lawsuits.
Seven residents are suing the company for loss of enjoyment of their properties.
For years, residents have been alleging the facility produces a smell like “rotting, burning shells and wires” while it operates between 8 P.M. to 8 A.M, while also producing loud noises.
Lawyer Mike Murphy, who is representing the seven plaintiffs, presented several affidavits containing testimonies about how the smell had impacted the lives of residents.
Much of the day was spent debating the admissibility of the statements in the affidavits, with Coastal Shell’s lawyer Edwin Ehrhardt arguing that there was no definitive proof connecting health issues residents claimed they have been experiencing and the smell produced by the facility.
Justice Christa Bourque struck out some parts of statements that weren’t backed up the opinions of doctors or other stakeholders, but upheld some of them, stating that individuals have personal knowledge of their own health.
Ehrhardt stated that a temporary injunction would mean a loss of 26 jobs at the facility, while creating financial hardship for the owners.
He also argued that the facility could be considered an agricultural facility, as some of the dried shells are used in fertilizer and livestock feed. That means complaints would need to be handled by the Farm Practices Review Board and couldn’t be blocked in court. Murphy and lawyer Vincent Savoie, who are both representing the plaintiffs, disagreed with the characterization of the facility as agricultural.
“We don’t think that it’s an agricultural operation, they’re producing ingredients for fertilizer and feedstock but less than 40% (of their operations) so our argument is that they don’t fall in the definition of an agricultural plant,” Savoie said outside the courts on Friday.
Judge Bourque said she needed more time to make a decision on whether the plant could be considered agricultural, adding she would make a decision in writing on an unspecified date.
Maisie Rae MacNaughton of the Kent Clean Air Action Committee (KCAAC) said it was hard to hear the experiences of residents questioned in court.
She said she wasn’t expecting the judge to make a decision on the same day.
“I’d rather she takes her time with this because it’s such a big file and it’s gone on for seven years now so to make a decision in one day would not be a good thing,” she said.
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