Chile’s Blumar submits USD 4 million plan to triple frozen handling capacity at Talcahuano plant
Santiago, Chile-based salmon farmer Blumar has submitted a proposed project to the national environmental impact evaluation service (SEIA) for a USD 4 million (EUR 3.4 million) expansion of its frozen products plant, located in the Isla Rocuant sector in the municipality of Talcahuano.
According to documents submitted to the SEIA, the project would expand raw material processing capacity for frozen fish production of Blumar’s Pesquera el Golfo brand, from 200 tons per day to 600 tons per day.
Blumar is proposing to incorporate new process lines at its 10,850-square-meter plant for the production of different types of products, including individual quick freezing, headed and gutted, head-on gutted, and headed, gutted, tailed. Plans include building a Girofreezer to freeze product at minus-18 degrees Celsius as well as the construction of eight static tunnels to cool the product between minus-2 degrees and 2 degrees Celsius, which would be in addition to the two existing tunnels at Isla Rocuant. The project would also include the incorporation of additional generators and an expansion of the current wastewater treatment plant.
The company’s timeline estimates a construction launch date of 1 March, 2021, with an estimated useful life of 20 years for the plant.
In May, Blumar announced a USD 40 million (EUR 36.5 million) capital increase via the issuance of new shares, in order to strengthen the company's financial position and help it better cope with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm did not say whether this funding would finance the expansion of its frozen products plant.
Blumar is still dealing with the after-effects of mass mortality at its Caicura grow-out center, located in the Los Lagos region, resulting from cages sunk in heavy storms, reported on 27 June.
A total 875,125 salmonids in the fattening stage – at an average weight of 3.8 kilos – were registered in 18 cages at the center, two of which saw escapes and the other 16 sinking to the seabed. Blumar performed prospecting studies and analysis of images taken with two underwater robots (ROVs), and with high-tech Hammerhead sonars, and found that 88 percent of the fish in the center, equivalent to 2,900 metric tons (MT), perished with the cages sunken at a depth of 295 meters.
Earlier this month, following its own investigation, Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) decided to file a complaint against Blumar with the national environmental watchdog, SMA, for the Caicura incident.
The move is “mainly related to the lack of timely implementation of contingency action plans by the company and possible breaches of duty in maintaining safety conditions at the cultivation modules in accordance with the environmental regulations for aquaculture,” Sernapesca Director Alicia Gallardo said.
Blumar had presented a plan for the removal of the structures and extraction of mortality as requested by Sernapesca, but this was rejected on 21 September, 2020. As long as the structure and fish mortality remain at the bottom of the seabed, SMA ordered daily measurements of pH, temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and oxygen saturation, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and the odor, color, and type of surface oil stains. Any anomalies are to be reported immediately to the SMA, with periodic reports on the measures adopted for mitigation.
Photo courtesy of Blumar