It’s hard to believe 2017 has already come to an end. We would like to thank everyone for your efforts and involvement with FAHB activities this year and for your on-going support in making Hout Bay a better place. Before the holiday season begins, we would like to provide you with some final updates for the year.
1. Update on the variation and renewal of Oceana’s Atmospheric Emissions Licence
At the end of July 2017, Oceana applied for a variation to and renewal of their Atmospheric Emissions Licence (AEL), the key license that allows them to operate. A public participation process was launched and interested and affected parties (IAPs) were encouraged to submit comments either in favour of or against the licence application. FAHB submitted a comprehensive comment document highlighting the negative impact of Oceana’s emissions, including results of our Air Pollution Impact Survey.
The public participation process was facilitated by Pieter Badenhorst Professional Services, who acted as the independent Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP) responsible for compiling these comments and responding to them. The comments and response document, along with other information, should be distributed to IAPs and made available on their website, but this has not occurred – the website is defunct and no IAPs have been notified.
FAHB sourced the comments and response document directly from the EAP and has made a preliminary review, summarised as follows:
- In total, 92 comments were received; 48 in support of and 41 opposed to the licence renewal. Submissions were also made on behalf of FAHB, the Hout Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association, and the Hout Bay Civic Association.
- Comments in support of the licence renewal cited employment as the main concern, highlighting the long-standing role of the factory and their corporate social investments. Comments opposing the license renewal cited health, well-being, and business impacts, as well as broader concerns about the perception of Hout Bay and its role in tourism development.
- In general, the responses provided by the EAP do not relate to the comments made – the negative impact of Oceana’s emissions on well-being are extensively detailed, yet the responses provided are simply an explanation of Oceana’s production process. There is no indication that concerns about well-being are taken into account and no information is provided on how this will be addressed. There is no comment regarding the role of tourism or development and many concerns have simply not been responded to.
- While the EAP is supposed to be independent, FAHB has concerns about the neutrality of the report – it appears information has only been sourced from Oceana, it does not contain any information from the City, nor have comments been adequately responded to.
FAHB has relayed these concerns to the EAP and is currently waiting a response.
In terms of process, the City has 60 days to review all documents submitted for the licence renewal and it is anticipated a decision will be reached in January 2018. Further updates will be made available then.
2. Health Risk Assessment information
There has been a long debate about the results of the Health Risk Assessment conducted in 2016 and FAHB recently received a redacted version of the report from the City. This includes the following assessment:
- The emissions (including hydrogen sulphide and trimethylamine) were considered as ‘unlikely to be associated with any detrimental health effects’ and exposure to these emissions were not associated with an ‘unacceptable risk to health’. It was stated that the area is suitable for residential development in so far as health risks associated with air quality are concerned.
- The report indicated that the impact of the odour needed to be evaluated and concluded it may be regarded as ‘unacceptable and lead to complaints.’ The report states that the potential for odour annoyance is ‘considerable’ and it is likely this will be rated as ‘unacceptable most of the time.’
The report did not include any information pertaining to the impact of the emissions on well-being issues. FAHB will continue to liaise with the City to understand the implications of this information further.
If you have any questions regarding this information, please feel free to get in touch.
Thank you again for all your support and we wish everyone a very happy festive season and joyful start to the new year!