Twillingate shrimp plant remains closed

Plant owner returned to his native China, leaving behind a lot of debt.
The shrimp shell processing plant in Twillingate didn't reopen this year. (CBC)

A new shrimp shell processing plant launched last summer in Twillingate didn't reopen this year.

Owner Hettinger Chang received a half million dollar loan from the province to develop the operation, which offered 20 new jobs to the small community along the northern coast of Newfoundland.

Now, the provincial government is confirming the Chinese businessman is asking for more time to payback the loan.

The operation was turning shrimp shell — a waste product — into arthritis medicine. The shells were being grinded into a powder and shipped to Shanghai.

In 2011, Chang called the site a "very good location" for his business because of its proximity to a wharf where they could conveniently collect shells.

But then Chang had some hard luck, said Twillingate Mayor Gord Noseworthy.

"The last four tractor trailer loads of shrimp got shipped to China," said Noseworthy. "But he never got paid for it because the company he was selling to went bankrupt."

Chang went back to China, where he is now having health problems, according to Noseworthy.

Wayne Greenham says the plant owner owes him about $3,500 in back wages. (CBC)

The businessman left behind a number of debts. Plant manager Wayne Greenham said he’s still owed about $3,500.

"It did leave a bad taste," said Greenham. "Anybody that works wants to get paid their day's wages."

Chang has asked for more time to bring in new investors and new processing equipment. In a written statement, the province says it's working with Chang and that it doesn't believe the loan is in jeopardy.

Noseworthy is also keeping the faith.

"Next year it will be up and running, bigger than it was in the beginning," said the mayor.