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Energy Alternatives To Re-Start Corn Processing

Wattie’s Uses Energy Alternatives To Re-Start Corn Processing

- Gas crisis stirs memories of 42-year-old fire at Wattie’s

Wattie’s this morning has resumed processing limited quantities of corn using portable gas supplies which have been rigged to the system. This has allowed the harvesting of those corn paddocks which would have been lost if left another 12-hours.

The company hopes to have another boiler operating on diesel by tomorrow, which will allow a further lift in processing capacity – but well short of full operation.

Despite the hopeful prospects of the resumption of mainline gas supplies to the Hawke’s Bay within the next 24-hours, Wattie’s is continuing with its effort to rig its boilers and cookers to alternative energy sources including diesel and portable CNG.

Managing Director Nigel Comer has commended NGC’s efforts at getting the main supply restored, but said Wattie’s could not afford to put aside its contingency plans until a more permanent solution for the link across the Pohangina River was in place.

“It would not be prudent at this stage to unwind the sterling efforts made at our plants over the past three days to find technical solutions and install alternative energy sources for some of our operations.

“These are never going to have us at full operating status, but sufficient to relieve some of the mounting pressure from fast-ripening seasonal crops.”

In its 60-year history Wattie’s has had remarkably few major operating disruptions, although this week’s gas crisis has stirred some ghosts of the past. Yesterday, February 19, was the 42nd anniversary of the fire that destroyed the Hastings plant (King Street).

Nigel Comer said a can-do attitude and team effort at that time saw operations restored within three days.

“That same Wattie’s spirit has shone through again this week, although our operations today are many times the size and more technically complex. With the support of skilled contractors we have found some limited solutions to our main gas supply problem.

“Our staff have been tremendous. It is reminiscent of the effort they made last year to raise $1 million for charity as a way of celebrating the 100th birthday of the late Sir James Wattie’s.”

Support for relief efforts Wattie’s is joining other companies and individuals making contributions to the relief efforts for those communities affected by this week’s floods. Cans of Wattie’s products – baked beans, spaghetti, soups and fruit salad - are being dispatched from Hastings for distribution by relief agencies.

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