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Factory given two years to combat smell

A smelly Christchurch factory has been given two years to stop producing its offensive odours.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) commissioners have approved an exemption for Gelita’s Woolston factory.

The factory turns bovine hides into gelatin-producing products ranging from confectionary to pill capsules.

The commissioners granted Gelita a two-year exemption from a condition stating that “there be no offensive odour identified as originating from any process carried out … beyond the property boundary of the site”.

There have been hundreds of complaints about the smell over the past three years — 114 in 2014 alone.

Alasdair Cassels, owner of The Tannery, a high-end retail development that opened nearby in 2013, said the extended time given to the company to fix the factory’s problem was unfair.

“Gelita had already been given a three-year period to get their ducks in a row.”

Commissioners granted the two-year exemption with a series of conditions. These included the installation of iron-exchange technology, along with the closing down of the factory’s acid plant within the first year. Gelita was also told to install by the end of the given two years a bio filter that ECan expects will prevent the offensive odour.

Gelita general manager Gary Monk has estimated the process would cost Gelita around $1 million within the first year. Several hundreds of thousands would be needed for the year following.

“We’ve developed a process that’s been good for the past 100 years, aside from being a bit smelly…. We’re changing the process and we’ve got to make sure that the quality of the finished gelatin is as good as it ever was.”

ECan monitoring and compliance leader Nathan Dougherty said the hearing was a chance for the company to put forward its request for a grace period and re-engage with the community.

“Everyone has the right to good air quality.”

Gelita’s failure to comply with ECan’s conditions would result in consequences ranging from fining to an abatement notice.

_Alice Peacock for Southern View