Top boss flies 5,000 miles to speak before councillors today
By Maxwell Kusi-Obodum; Senior reporter; Daily Echo;
Mike Verachtert will face city councillors today after jetting nearly 5,000 miles from the Oxbow Sulphur and Fertiliser Offices near Houston in Texas.
The industrial giant wants to develop Britain’s first ever sulphur pastillation plant on land off West Bay Road in Freemantle to transform substance from its liquid form into droplet-sized pellets for shipping abroad.
The revised plans – which will go before Southampton City Council’s planning committee this morning – have sparked outrage among some residents over fears the substance could pollute their air and cause extra noise and congestion.
But Mr Verachtert, who is the firm’s business development vice president, insists the base will be the company’s most advanced in the world and generate huge benefits for the city.
Speaking from his offices in The Woodlands on the outskirts of Houston he said: “This will be the first sulphur forming facilities in the UK.
“We are conscientious of our neighbours and intend to build it to our highest standards so there are no negative impacts.
“It will provide employment for local residents, who we intend to hire from within a few miles from the site and will provide additional taxes.
They want to start building it in September, creating 50 jobs in the construction phase followed by 12 permanent roles including skilled engineers and operations staff.
Sulphur extracted from crude oil at the Fawley Refinery would arrive at the plant in lorries before it is cooled and stored in silos before being shipped to the far East to be used as fertilisers and pharmaceuticals.
It will initially handle 30,000 tonnes of sulphur a year with a capacity of 100,000 a year – but he points out this is much less than its four sites in Canada and six others operating in the USA and North America processing between 200,000 to 300,000 tonnes annually.
Currently liquid sulphur travels 240 miles from Fawley to Runcorn where it is shipped to Europe by barge for further distribution and he says it will slash the country’s carbon footprints.
Mr Verachtert stressed the gases responsible for creating most of the tell-tale rotten eggs smell are mostly removed at the refinery and a “scrubbing system” will remove residual gases.
He added: “We are installing the best technology available and the plant is going to exceed UK emissions standards.
“Oxbow is a good corporate citizen and we intend to and we are going to be a good neighbour and we have already had enquiries from people wanting to work for us.”
“We are looking to be part of Southampton and we will welcome people in to see the plant once it is constructed.”
Oxbow launched 60 years ago and is the world’s largest company involved in marketing, forming, bagging, containerising, melting, transportation and logistics.
The original proposals – within a mile of Helius’ proposed huge biomass power station - were initially given the green light by officers after the company submitted the bid in October 2011 without any public consultation.
But the Echo exclusively revealed the plans in March after horrified residents stumbled across a revised planning application.
For further information contact:
Corporate Communications & Community Relations
Oxbow Carbon LLC
1601 Forum Place, Suite 1400
West Palm Beach, FL 33401