Birzebbuga Mayor Scott Camilleri is confident that the Environment and Resources Authority will be taking the appropriate steps so the awful stench that swept over the nearby areas of Tal-Papa and Hal Far does not recur.
Earlier this week the Birzebbuga Local Council called on the ERA to “immediately halt” the operations of Aquaculture Resources Ltd’s new facility in Hal Far, which is producing protein meal and oil for export from fish offal after being harvested from fish farms.
The Council filed an official complaint with the ERA over an “unbearable stench” coming from the plant which was affecting nearby residents.
The facility had been given permits by both the Planning Authority and the ERA but now that it has commenced operations, residents report smelling something fishy.
But Aquaculture Resources Ltd CEO Charlon Gouder, writing in reply to an article on the subject carried by The Shift earlier this week, took exception to the complaint.
“There have been several inspections by the ERA,” Gouder said, adding, “All the necessary investment has taken place to treat both air and wastewater before discharge back into the environment/water network.”
The ERA had approved an application for an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permit for the facility at the end of September, while the Planning Authority had given the plant its stamp of approval in March of last year.
On the IPPC permitting process, Gouder recalled how the permit had been unanimously approved without objections.
Gouder added, “The local council was among the stakeholders to be consulted and no objections were forthcoming after noting the heavy investment taking place.
“Furthermore, the public, including the local council, had the opportunity to participate in both public meetings and a formal meeting to raise any objections, but no objections were raised.”
Gouder also underscored how the ERA had said at the time, “Such facilities further contribute towards a circular system with minimal to zero waste generation, while augmenting the environmental sustainability of this important sector of Malta’s blue economy.”
He insisted, “ARL is proud of its high environmental principles and, to this effect, has invested heavily in a new state-of-the-art plant.”
The company running the €11 million plant, Aquaculture Resources Ltd, is made up of Malta’s main players in the fish farming industry and counts Charles Azzopardi (Azzopardi Fisheries), Joseph Caruana (Fish and Fish Ltd) and Saviour Ellul (MFF Limited) among its shareholders.