Silo collapse: 'Mountains' of seeds to be recovered after probe

Tammy Petersen, News24

Cape Town - An estimated 11 500 tons of canola seeds in 14 silos that collapsed at the Sentraal-Suid Koöperasie agricultural co-operative in Swellendam will be recovered once a Department of Labour investigation into the incident has been completed, the company said on Friday.

CEO Ernst Pelser said the inquiry was "normal practice" to check for further structural problems and that the area was safe to enter.

"Until then, everything remains closed," he said.

The steel structures were about 20 years old and had been filled to the brim when they started collapsing "like dominoes" at about 08:30 on Tuesday morning.

The seeds were being stored for the adjacent Southern Oils, which manufactures B-well Canola oil.

No one was injured.

Pelser said eight silos were still standing.

The cause of the collapse was unclear, but once the departmental investigation was completed, a team of engineers and assessors would probe the incident further and recover the seeds, he said.

Mountains of canola seeds, which Pelser previously told News24 could be up to 30m high, covered the area where the silos once stood.

Alternative storage space is available at SSK's Ashton silos, while silo bags will be used to store the rest.

Pelser said they were unable yet to confirm how much the "disaster" would cost the company.