The Oceana Group has announced that it is considering closing its fishmeal factory in Hout Bay, following years of complaints by residents about its smell.
The group is now proposing to move the operation to the west coast town of St Helena Bay, 150km from Cape Town, causing concerns over job losses for it 98 employees.
In a statement the group said it was giving “serious consideration” to closing the plant that has produced fishmeal and fish oil since 1958.
It said the plant had been operating at a loss since a decision was taken three years ago to decrease production by 40 percent to placate the area’s residents, who complained that the smell it produced was unbearable.
However, the reduction in output had not decreased the number of complaints; instead they had escalated significantly over the past 12 months.
Oceana said that it had invested over R50 million (USD3.86 million) in “odour minimisation technology” in the past 15 years. It said, however, there was “no system in the world that can completely eliminate the odour”.
The group said it didn’t want any employees to lose their jobs. “In the event that the company decides to cease operations at Hout Bay, it will guarantee alternative employment to all 98 employees at its St Helena Bay facility or anywhere else in the group where positions may be available, together with relocation allowances.”
The city council had carried out numerous inspections of the plant following complaints and agreed that under normal operating conditions, the facility was generally being operated in compliance with the atmospheric emission licence conditions.
Mediation talks have now started between the company and the unions to find a way forward.
Source: Jan Cronje, Weekend Argus, IOL News. Read the full story here.