Silo collapse clean up could take four weeks

Tammy Petersen, News24

Cape Town - Cleaning up about 11 500 tons of canola seeds following the collapse of 14 silos at the Sentraal-Suid Koöperasie (SSK) in Swellendam started on Monday morning.

It was expected to take about four weeks. The 20-year-old steel structures at the agricultural co-operative toppled like dominoes on December 1.

CEO Ernst Pelser said the collapsed silos would be removed from the site and rebuilt once all the seeds had been collected.

“The procedure is being overseen by structural engineers and the operation will ensure that the best and safest methods are used,” he said.

The site was closed pending a labour department investigation, which had since been completed. Pelser said this was normal practice to determine if there were further structural problems and that the area was safe to enter.

The seeds, stored for Southern Oils, which manufactures B-well Canola oil, would be tested to determine if they were still safe for consumption.

“But we don’t doubt that it is still completely usable,” Pelser said.

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

About 30% the seeds would be sent to Southern Oils to be turned into oil, while the rest would be stored at SSK's Ashton silos.

Pelser said an estimation of the cost of the collapse should be available by next week.