Birds in the St. John's harbour have been causing a serious and rather unpleasant problem for workers in the Oceanex terminals.

The company says bird feces cover the containers and platform, and it's unsafe for the workers or the customers who the containers are meant for.

St. John's council approved a plan for Oceanex to use noise-making devices in that area to deter birds.

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Councillor Tom Hann says the problem has turned into a possible health and safety issue for both workers and the general public. (CBC)

City councillor Tom Hann said they're concerned for the safety of the workers.

"Given the enormity of the problem that Oceanex has, council has decided on an interim basis to allow them to use this noise deterrent to see if it works for them," Hann said.

"The biggest thing that's important is that, number one, it's a health and safety issue for people who work on the pier."

Hann said there is also the possibility that the fecal matter is compromising the safety of the goods being transported.

"When that fecal matter is dropped on the containers, there's a possibility of it seeping inside, and you never know what the products are. It could be products that you and I are buying and eating and using," he said.

Work environment concerns

Sid Hynes, executive chairman of Oceanex, said workers are forced to clean up the mess left by the birds in order to make sure their work environment is safe.

"Not only are they a nuisance factor, but they really make the place a mess — they create droppings to the stage that we actually have to wash the terminal down," he said.

"We literally get hit with hundreds of thousands of birds possibly, and they make a huge, huge mess over time, so we wind up having to wash the terminal so we don't have a slippery environment for our employees."

Hynes said the company wants to ensure the employees are as safe as possible, so they've looked into a number of options to deter the birds — even bringing in a falcon for hundreds of dollars a day to scare the gulls off.

"It's something we've been dealing with for years. We've done a lot of crazy things to try to resolve this," Hynes said.

"We're required by law to have a clean working environment for our people, and we want to do that."

Oceanex already implements reflectors to deter the birds, but to no avail. They will bring in low-frequency noise makers that will be used twice a day, as needed, on a trial basis.

Hann said council will consider any complaints from people living in the area before giving permanent approval.