DISPUTE: Oceana Fishmeal Factory is said to be causing a stink in Hout Bay. Picture: DAVID RITCHIE

Michael Nkalane

ALTHOUGH an activist group insists the Oceana Fishmeal Factory in Hout Bay is polluting the air with a foul smell, the area’s ratepayers and civic associations disagree, saying the smell will always be there as Hout Bay is a fishing village.

Fresh Air for Hout Bay director Kiara Worth said the smell coming from the factory has worsened.

The factory was on the verge of moving its operation to the West Coast town of St Helena Bay, 150km from Cape Town. This could have resulted in 100 direct jobs being lost.

Worth said: “Pretty astounding that in 2016 a company is still allowed to pollute an entire residential community and is still allowed to operate without ever having done an Environmental Impact Assessment or a social impact assessment. This is exactly what we raised in our letter to the City.”

Hout Bay Ratepayers’ Association chairperson Len Swimmer said: “This is a fishing village. People must get used to the smell of a fish.”

He said people can always expect a smell of fish in the area. “Smelling can be subjective sometimes. To those who like a smell of a flower, of course, fish will smell bad.”

Hout Bay Civic Association convener Roscoe Jacobs said the area was facing bigger issues than the smell of fish, and that the factory is committed to upgrading its odour-abating technology.

“We live in a fishing area. The smell has always been there. Let’s focus on 100 employees who stand to lose jobs if the company closes.

“There are also fishermen who go out and fish in the sea and sell to the factory to put food on the table for their families,” he said.

Mayco member for health Siyabulela Mamkeli said the City had been engaging with Lucky Star, which owns the factory, and the Department of Environmental Affairs on the matter.

“Lucky Star has committed to upgrading its chemical scrubber (odour-filtration system) to replace the existing unit with a more efficient, higher-capacity unit.

“The process will, however, take some months to complete,” he said.

Oceana spokesperson Pamela Manda said: “The new scrubber is an upgrade of the previous and can be thought to be analogous of a revised computer-operating system which may potentially be more efficient, but cannot completely eliminate the smells associated with fishmeal production.”

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