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In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers
Herring oil tanks outside of Imperial Cannery
Huge herring oil tanks outside of Imperial Cannery reduction plant, circa 1950s.
City of Richmond Archives 1985 4 640
Herring oil tanks outside of Imperial Cannery The seperator room at Imperial Cannery Explore the centrifuge at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Explore the tank farm deck at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery

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Separating Oil and Water

Separators spun the press liquor at high speed. Inside the machines, centrifugal force separated lighter herring oil from heavier water. Press liquor was sprayed through vibrating screens. This removed any coarse sediment before the liquid was fed into the separators. The main producer of industrial separators was the De Laval Separator Company. The separators used in herring reduction were just like those used by the dairy industry to separate milk from cream.

Herring oil was pumped from the separators into humongous storage tanks outside of the reduction plant. The remaining liquid was called ‘stickwater' and it was pumped to the solubles plant to be made into solubles.

The Separatorman operated precision machinery and he kept it very clean. Every shift, separators were disassembled and sticky build-up cleaned off in an acid bath. Like the Pressman and Dryerman, the Separatorman was more skilled and better paid than regular plant labourers. It was a position you earned, as former plant employee Gerry Keneva suggests. "I worked on the separators for years. I graduated. First you start on the bins."

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