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Enormous dryers tumble-dried ‘press cake' in a blast of intense heat. It was Dryerman's job to ensure that the press cake dried properly. He did this by constantly monitoring the thermometers and keeping the flame temperature just right. If the driers were allowed to get too hot the meal would catch fire and create all kinds of problems. He also kept a watchful eye on the moisture level of the meal. As retired plant worker Gerry Keneva recalls, "If the stuff used to get too wet... Bang! He's hitting it with this bloody sledgehammer to get the meal off the side" because it would clump up and stick to the inside of the drier!
The massive driers belched stinky exhaust over the town of Steveston. Everything was saturated with the odour of herring oil and burned fuel. "Steveston was covered in a haze from this smoke and it stunk!" recalled former Imperial Cannery reduction plant worker and long-time Steveston resident John Bouchard. Complaints to Richmond City Hall were common. Pollution controls were finally installed at the reduction plants during the 1970s, but the smell never completely went away until the plants were shut down for good in the 1990s.