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Developers of Southampton docks sulphur plant meet residents

By Maxwell Kusi-Obudum; The Daily Echo;

SOUTHAMPTON - THE developers of the controversial sulphur plant planned for Southampton docks met residents face to face to answer fears of the site’s environmental impact.

Bosses from Oxbow Sulphur and Fertiliser last night told Freemantle neighbours their proposed sulphur pastillation plant earmarked for West Bay Road will meet “stringent” safety and emissions standards.

The complex, the first of its kind in Britain, involves transforming liquid sulphur arriving in tanker lorries from the Fawley Refinery into solid dropletsized pastilles to be shipped abroad to use in pharmaceuticals and fertilisers.

But the site, which will handle 30,000 tons of sulphur a year, will lie within a mile of the giant biomass plant proposed by Helius. People are worried that the 0.4 hectare site, which is much smaller in comparison, will send the smell of rotten eggs wafting towards their homes.

However, Oxbow technical project manager Rick Bloom told last night’s packed meeting at Freemantle CE Community Academy in Mansion Road: “We have an excellent safety record and we go the extra mile to keep our plants in good condition.”

He said a scrubbing system will remove residual odour-causing gases from the product and added: “The odour treatment will be the strictest facilities that we have and we will have the most stringent regulations. “We can do it, we have the technology and we are going to do it.”

Millbrook ward councillor Asa Thorpe, who chaired the meeting, asked: “Have there been any explosions at any of the plants Oxbow operate?”

Mr Bloom replied: “The health risks with sulphur are minimal in our case and we haven’t had any explosions in our organisation or in our facilities.”

Earlier this week Oxbow moved to quell residents’ fears in the wake of the Texas fertiliser explosion, which killed 14 people.

Mr Bloom said: “Ammonium nitrate, which is the presumed cause of the explosion in the US, is a completely different commodity. It will not feature in the process at all and will not be used by the sulphur forming facility.”

Oxbow’s bid is a revised version of its original planning application given the green light by council officers in March last year after they submitted it in October 2011.

Some residents leaving the meeting were heard to say: “It seems as if it’s a done deal”.

Politicians will also debate the application at the authority’s planning committee meeting on Tuesday, May 28.

People wishing their comments to be included in the panel agenda should write to Planning and Sustainability, Southampton City Council, Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7LS by the May 10 deadline.

For further information contact:

Corporate Communications & Community Relations
Oxbow Carbon LLC
1601 Forum Place, Suite 1400
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 907-5422

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