Corporate releases

Yara blending facility has clean bill of health

01 August, 2019

Yara International is a Norwegian company with operations in 60 countries, listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.  Yara delivers sustainable crop nutrition solutions to farmers worldwide, helping feed 220 million people with our products.

The Safety of our employees, community, environment and all stakeholders is one of the two underlying principles that guide all Yara’s operations.  The second principle is Ethics.  Ethical behaviour and integrity in all operations and everything that we do is not negotiable and along with safety, is the cornerstone of all Yara’s operations.

The company has plant nutrition blending facilities in various locations in South Africa, including Paarl.  The Paarl facility services the agricultural sector in the Western Cape.  The elements used in Yara’s plant nutrition products occur naturally in soil, plants, animals and the human body.  The same elements are commonly used in domestic gardens and sports fields and can be purchased from various nurseries, garden departments of food chain stores and Agri businesses.

The Paarl facility is located at a designated industrial zone that was established in the 1970s.  The company plans to consolidate its Paarl blending facility with the facility currently at Montagu Gardens. This facility has sufficient unused land for the planned consolidation. Yara has been operating at this facility for more than 16 years.  The expansion will create about 40 new permanent employment opportunities for Paarl residents, bringing the total number of employees of Yara in Paarl to 174, and 245 in South Africa.  This excludes the knock on effect of transporters, maintenance and other contract services in the supply chain.

Yara submitted a development application to the Drakenstein Municipality in 2015.  The application included feedback on an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), heritage and traffic impact assessments.  The Municipality asked for public comments from neighbours and affected parties.  Objections and a petition was received by the Municipality.  Amongst some of the concerns raised by the local community was dust, increased noise levels, traffic congestion and a negative environmental impact.

There have been several media reports about the community’s objection to the expansion of the facility.  Yara would like to make its position clear on these issues:

Yara works with granular plant nutrition products and not powder or dust.  Minimal amounts (less than 0.5%) of particles smaller than 1 mm is present in granular blends.  All material on site is handled in an enclosed facility.

To test possible health concerns raised by residents, Yara proactively commissioned an independent Air Quality Assessment report in 2016.  Only a small percentage of the dust fallout on site was a result of Yara’s operation.  The report indicates that emissions from vehicles are likely the cause of the majority of dust fallout.  The Yara facility is bordered by both Jan van Riebeeck Drive and Huguenot Bypass carrying substantial traffic volumes daily.

A second independent Air Quality Assessment report was commissioned by Yara during July and August 2018 with similar results.

A third independent report was commissioned by the Drakenstein Municipality in 2019.  In addition to dust fall out and air quality the report went further to test possible corrosion, ammonia monitoring and chemical fingerprinting on several locations on and off site.  The tests found corrosion was low and ammonia was well below internationally acceptable standards.  The report further established that less than 5% of the dust fallout on site was from the Yara facility.  This report concludes and confirms that the Yara facility is not a source of pollution, as also confirmed by previous reports.

“The air quality reports show that there is no reason for concern as a result by our current or proposed operations, and therefore no health risks are posed.  I trust these reports will ease the concern of local residents.  We have a clean track record when it comes to health and safety and we will keep it that way,” said Ig Ferreira, Regional Director at Yara. Safety is our licence to operate.

Yara complies with National Ambient Air Quality Standards and the National Environmental Air Quality Act.  In addition, air quality is well within permissible international standards.

In the process of the development application, Yara commissioned an independent transport impact assessment of the new development.  The assessment established that the planned expansion will have little impact on congestion and that a new access road was not required.  The volume of traffic is expected to increase daily from 14 to 21 cargo vehicles depending on the size of the vehicles.

24 hour operations
Yara does not operate 24 hours as a matter of routine.  There are times when we experience high demand from our customers which requires working longer shifts.  This is largely determined by seasonal demand.

Environmental Impact Assessment
Yara was prepared to conduct an EIA but was advised by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, after considering the development application, that an EIA was not required for the planned blending facility.

Yara is considerate to the impact of noise on the residents bordering the industrial area.  We have worked to reduce noise and an Occupational Hygiene Survey of noise levels indicated a reduction by 5 decibels between 2014 and 2017.  We continue to focus on reducing noise levels as part of our continuous improvement programme. 

There is minimal noise from the mixing facility and other operations.  We are located in a designated industrial area and some level of noise is expected and natural for an industrial area.

Engagement with the Paarl community
We appreciate and respect the concerns raised by the community about Yara’s expansion.  We have done our utmost to address their concerns including appointing independent experts to conduct various analysis.  Yara invited the local community to tour its facility and we explained our plans on two occasions, in June 2017 and July 2019.  Yara made it clear that we want to continuously collaborate with the community and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions for the issues raised by the community with the new development.  All stakeholders, however, need to be open minded and willing to seek solutions together. We can only make decisions on facts and not false information currently doing the rounds.

“We are certain that our facility has passed every requirement of local, provincial and national government.  We will gladly address any other issues that the authorities or residents of Paarl may have.  Working in collaboration with residents and all other stakeholders is who we are as a company.  We have a strong values based culture at Yara, building on more than 110 years of operation.  Doing the right thing for people and the planet is important to us,” said Ferreira.

For more information contact:
Tyla Rogers
Communications Manager
Office: +2711 011 9232 

General email: