Folk still stinky over port pong

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2013

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Residents affected by a stench from rotting palm kernel at Port Taranaki were left unhappy after a meeting with the building's owners yesterday.

Australian company Viterra, which owns the storage shed, fronted up to residents to reveal its plans to fix the problem.

But the company told a Taranaki Daily News reporter and photographer to leave because the Viterra representative said he was not allowed to talk with the media present.

After the meeting, resident Barrie Slyfield said people were unhappy because they did not feel the company had arrived at a solution.

"People went away feeling partly more informed, but not happy," he said.

The owners said they had every intention of trying to solve the issue - either new ventilation or a new stack on the roof, he said.

"But most residents felt this would take some time and the problem would not be immediately overcome."

Some days the smell was so bad he was unable to stay outside.

Brian Allan said he was left "pretty dissatisfied."

The Viterra spokesman gave all the reassurances he could without giving any guarantees, he said.

"They are going to fly an Australian scientist in to have a look."

Mr Allan said he was shocked to hear Viterra had received only three abatement notices from the Taranaki Regional Council when so many people had complained.

Some people were "freaked out" when they heard there had been an emergency in the shed a few weeks ago and the fire brigade was called, he said.

"It [palm kernel] heated up and they didn't know what to do. So they poured water on it. But the filtration system was only for air particles not the moist stuff, so the filter system got blocked up on the spot."

Tom Cassie said people felt the regional council should have been at the meeting.

The council need to take some of the blame for allowing the shed to be built on the waterfront, he said.

"I didn't think much came out of it [the meeting]."

Regional council resource management director Fred McLay said it was still investigating.

"We encouraged the company to meet the local residents and provide information about the incident."

Viterra issued a statement from Australia yesterday afternoon.

"Viterra, its store operators and Port Taranaki met with local residents to discuss the residents' concerns around odour from its port store operation.

"The meeting provided an opportunity to listen to the concerns of the residents, and discuss the steps being undertaken to reduce the odour of the product. The mitigation activities include running down current stocks and a thorough cleaning of the facility as well as sourcing further filtration remedies from industry experts.

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"A residents' working committee has been established and will work in conjunction with the relevant parties in reviewing the store filtration system and possible odour control mechanisms."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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