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Thursday May 08, 2014

Fishmeal factory smell upsets Hout Bay property owners

Fishing group Oceana's chief executive Francois Kuttel has accepted that the stink emanating from its Hout Bay fishmeal plant offends some people, but said nothing can be done to stop the smell.

The Oceana factory in Hout Bay which has residents in a fury over the smell when it is producing fishmeal.

Residents and businesses in the area were up in arms over the last few weeks as the smell of rotting fish from Oceana's factory filled the air in Hout Bay.

'The odour is characteristic of normal fishmeal production globally. However, we accept that this may at times be offensive to certain people. Unfortunately, the technology does not exist to eliminate the processing odours completely. Although the odour is present every time the factory operates, residents only experience it intermittently on a minority of the production days,' Kuttel said.

For three months of the year, the Oceana Group, one of the largest fishing companies in South Africa, embarks on its fishmeal production. Fishmeal is used as an ingredient in animal and aquaculture feed. It is also used as a fertiliser.

Kuttel said every time the factory received a complaint, an investigation was conducted by the company to assess whether the plant had been operating normally.

'In all instances where complaints were logged recently, it was found that the plant has been operating normally. The regulating authority has also conducted its own investigations and our operations have been found to be compliant,' Kuttel said.

The factory also operated in compliance with the Atmospheric Emission Licence.

The fumes emanating from the factory were harmless to the health of residents, spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Mushfeeqah Croeser said.

'It is important to note that the plant has been in existence for more than 40 years and is a registered offensive trade. The plant operates on best practices and is the leading fishmeal plant in South Africa in terms of odour abatement technology,' Croeser said.

For resident Emma Stokes, the smell that came from the factory last week was so bad she wrote to the city's health department asking for help.

'I can't believe that one factory operating in a highly industrial manner can hold a suburb of thousands to ransom - especially in an area that derives the majority of its income and job creation through residents and tourists,' Stokes told the Cape Times

Mayoral committee member for health Lungiswa James said she had received numerous complaints from residents and her department was investigating whether the fumes from Oceana's factory was a danger to people.

Hout Bay Residents' Association chairman Len Swimmer had said complaints about the smell always flooded in at this time of year, but there was nothing they could do.

Cape Times


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