Josh Oliver (left), of Go Motors, Brett Robertson, of North Coast Wholesale Cars, and Kevin Handcock, of Perkins Caravans, say furnace soot from Norco is affecting their businesses.
Josh Oliver (left), of Go Motors, Brett Robertson, of North Coast Wholesale Cars, and Kevin Handcock, of Perkins Caravans, say furnace soot from Norco is affecting their businesses. Cathy Adams

Steamed up over soot from furnace

BLACK soot is creating havoc for businesses in South Lismore.

Brett Robertson, of North Coast Wholesale Cars, said 50 cars in his yard were coated in soot four days out of five last week.

Mr Robertson said the soot was coming from the Norco furnace 500 metres from his business.

The furnace is used to heat water for the Union Street plant.

“We come into work and the cars are almost unsaleable,” Mr Robertson said.

“It won't hose off. You have to wash it off.”

Mr Robertson said last week four staff members spent four to five hours a day cleaning the black film off his cars.

He said that on a windy day things were fine, but when there was no wind the soot settled on the cars.

The additional cleaning was costing Mr Robertson $462 a week.

Norco chief executive Brett Kelly said he was contacted by local businesses about the soot last Friday and was now looking into the situation.

Perkins Caravans general manager Craig Blacker said the soot was also affecting his Union Street business.

“You can't keep your product clean,” Mr Blacker said.

Mr Blacker said he had to clean 55 caravans two to three times a day to keep the soot off.

“It's almost like diesel. It's horrible,” Mr Blacker said.

Mr Blacker said the soot also collected in the sails used to protect the caravans from hail and when it rained it washed over the caravans.

“It's putrid stuff. I don't know how the locals put up with it,” he said.

Dick and Julie Nolan have lived 50 metres from the furnace for 20 years and said the soot was just a part of life.

“You live with it,” Mr Nolan said.

“We haven't had too much trouble.”

Mr Nolan said he washed his house down once or twice a year, but felt dirt from passing traffic was a bigger problem.

Around the corner in Engine Street, Jessica Tebbut said she had not noticed the soot.

Ms Tebbut said as a mother of two young children she always had whites on the line.

“I've had no problems with it,” she said.



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