UHA NPC’s interdict calls for EnviroServ to release toxicology report

The Department of Environmental Affairs is currently investigating the malodour at Shongweni Landfill site, owned by waste management company, EnviroServ. PHOTO: Lloyd Mackenzie.

THE Upper Highway Air NPC instituted an urgent application before the Durban High Court against EnviroServ and six others on Thursday, 13 April.

The UHA NPC is seeking interim relief interdicting EnviroServ from receiving, treating and disposing of any and all wastes into the Shongweni Landfill Site pending, among other things, the outcome of the purported appeal by EnviroServ against the DEA’s suspension of part of EnviroServ’s waste management licence.

RELATEDDEA suspends operations at Shongweni Landfill site

In a statement released by the UHA NPC, the directors said EnviroServ have, in breach of the compliance notice, refused to hand over a copy of the toxicology report to the DEA.

“This is a criminal offence and the DEA informed the UHA NPC in writing that EnviroServ had been placed on terms to produce the report within 24 hours, failing which it would lay a further criminal charge against EnviroServ.” 

“EnviroServ, as usual, expects the community and the DEA to be satisfied with no more than its version of what is contained in the toxicology report. This is completely unacceptable given its substantive misrepresentation concerning the findings of the Technical Assessment, which the NPC has already pointed out.”

The scheduled date for the interdict hearing is Wednesday, 26 April.

Group CEO of EnviroServ, Dean Thompson, issued a statement the same day saying that a specialist report on the human health risks arising from the Shongweni Landfill has found the primary air contaminant contributing to the odour in the Upper Highway area.

EnviroServ believes the contaminant, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), is not associated with a risk of cancer.

RELATEDEnviroServ appeals DEA’s Waste Management Licence suspension
Thompson said the community health risk assessment by scientific company INFOTOX took four months to complete and considered all potential sources of hazardous substances in air released from the Shongweni Landfill operations.

“The work included air samples being sent to accredited laboratories in the United Kingdom for analysis, detailed dispersion modellling by Airshed Planning Professionals as well as direct readings taken on the site with calibrated instruments.”

Speaking about some of the conclusions in the community health risk assessment, which will be presented to the authorities in due course, Thompson said:

“According to the available health information, nose bleeding, cardiovascular effects and breathing problems in asthmatics cannot be linked with exposure to H2S at the levels found in the communities; Shongweni is not the only source of H2S in the study area. This affects the health risk interpretations, because Shongweni is not the major contributor to H2S.”

EnviroServ group technical specialist, Dr Johan Schoonraad said the sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions recorded in KwaNdengezi and Plantations by EnviroServ’s real-time air monitors, which provided data recently reported to the authorities, were not included in the health risk assessment.

“This is because SO2 is not formed at the landfill as there are no combustion activities,” said Dr Schoonraad.

He added that sulfur dioxide health effects include asthma attacks and other airway problems and as a result, INFOTOX has recommended a further investigation.

“EnviroServ remain fully committed to our own corrective measures which will be implemented by the end of August,” said EnviroServ Group CEO Dean Thompson.

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay
Journalist

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