On Friday 28 July 2017, the Sentinel announced that the Oceana fishmeal factory is reapplying for its Atmospheric Emissions Licence (AEL), the main licence that it has to operate. As part of this renewal, a public participation process has been initiated where all interested people can submit their comments on whether or not they think the AEL should be renewed. The closing date for submissions is 5pm, 17 August 2017.
1. What is the licence and what changes are being made?
The AEL is the main licence that allows Oceana to operate – it details the kind of production that can occur, the amount of production and the operating conditions that need to take place. Fresh Air for Hout Bay (FAHB) is currently reviewing Oceana’s application, which includes a variation to their operating process, and we are trying to understand the implications this will have.
Our immediate concern is that there is no obvious change in the operating practices to address or alleviate the many complaints and concerns on how the noxious odour emissions negatively impact the livelihoods and well-being or people in Hout Bay.
More concerning is the request in the application to reintroduce the use of formalin (formaldehyde) as a raw material in the process. No mention is made of any possible health implications to local residents, despite there being global concerns about long-term exposure to formaldehyde. This is especially worrying when taking into consideration the existing concerns about the health implications of the current emissions from the factory. Over the past eight months, housing development in Hangberg was halted due to health concerns from Oceana’s emissions and the City of Cape Town has actively denied FAHB and the community access to the Health Risk Assessment conducted. FAHB has submitted an appeal to the Speakers Office but our concerns about the health implications remain.
2. How can we influence the decision to renew Oceana’s licence?
A publication participation process has been initiated in response to the renewal of the AEL. All interested or affected parties need to register their comments with the Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP). As an independent institution commissioned to run the process, they will collect all comments and submit these to the City for consideration. Once the AEL application and all supporting documentation has been tabled and accepted, the City has 60 days to consider and make a decision to grant or refuse the AEL. They then have a further 30 days to issue the licence if successful.
This is an important opportunity for us to formally raise our concerns about Oceana’s operations and provide evidence as to why the licence should not be renewed.
FAHB will submit substantive comment to oppose this application. Over the years we have been documenting the concerns raised by the many residents and businesses that are negatively affected by the odour pollution emitted by the factory. These concerns include health matters including a variety of respiratory issues, a compromise of our well-being and the ability to enjoy our homes, on-going loss of business by local restaurants, shops and guesthouses, and the negative impact on tourism and development to the valley.
3. How can I contribute to FAHB’s submission?
We need you to complete the FAHB Air Pollution Impact Survey to help us document how people are affected by the odour pollution and emissions from Oceana. (If you have already completed a survey, you do not need to complete another one. Instead, encourage others to complete the survey and follow Step 4 below.) The results of the survey will be submitted in our comments to demonstrate why the licence should not be renewed.
You can access the survey online or collect them at the following locations:
- Ta-Da Coffee Shop, Victoria Avenue
- Hout Bay Coffee, Mainstream Centre
- Hummingbird Café and Patisserie, Mainstream Centre
- Woolworths Café, Mainstream Centre
- La Cuccina, Victoria Centre
- Dario’s Café, Victoria Avenue
- Nutmeg Farmstall, EarthWorx Garden World
Please ensure that all surveys are submitted by Monday 14 August 2017.
Please remember, we only need one survey per household. Thus far we have collected approximately 350 surveys, representing more than 1,300 residents, but we need more to strongly make our case.
4. How can I submit my own comment through this process?
It is very important to submit your own comment through the public participation process directly. The more comments received by the EPA, the more our concerns will be taken into consideration.
To do this, please send an email to Ms Mische Molife that includes the following information:
- Reference number: WCCT059
- Your name and contact details
- Your comments as to why or why not the licence should be renewed. Please provide as much detail as possible explaining your position and highlighting the impact Oceana’s emissions have on the community.
Please note: the commenting period closes on 17 August 2017 at 5pm – please submit your comments before this date.
This is an important opportunity for us – please make the effort today to contribute to the positive development of our community.