Hillcrest residents fuming over ‘toxic’ stench

RESIDENTS of an upmarket estate in Hillcrest are fuming over the toxic odours in Hillcrest and surrounding areas.

According to Sarah Rosslien, she has been in contact with environmental groups about the Shongweni Enviroserv landfill site, which seems to be causing noxious gas smells in and around the Hillcrest area. She said many residents have experienced side-effects from the odours that include nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, sinusitis and chest problems.

“We believe waste material from the diesel and petrol spill sites is being dumped at the Shongweni Enviroserv landfill, which definitely seems to exacerbate the problem. A large group of us have logged all the times, wind direction and type of smells as well as side-effects experienced. We have statements from a number of residents about their experiences related to the landfill gases and how they have been affected,” said Rosslien.

The group of residents said that have notified a local councillor, Gillian Noyce, and Clive Kidd of Enviroserv and continue to call the Enviroserv emergency line when the odour occurs, but seem to have been given the run-around and all sorts of excuses.

“A second landfill site is to be built next to the current site. We fear that matters will only degrade further. We’re all literally sick from the situation, this last week has been particularly potent and unbearable, with some of my acquaintances landing up in hospital with pneumonia. We are increasingly worried about the damage this is doing to our families and our health,” said Rosslien.

DA councillor, Gillian Noyce, said Hillcrest seems to be in an odour belt and the right weather conditions can create ‘a perfect storm’. She said the possible culprits are the Enviroserve landfill site, which takes in toxic waste which is excluded from general waste landfill sites because it has to be dealt with according to stringent legal conditions. However, she believes there are other contributors to the odour.

“Hillcrest Treatment Works, which deals with waste water and sewage from central Hillcrest, is heavily loaded and some of the pump stations which service areas with a large number of restaurants have problems with the grease traps which are not kept clean. The collapse of the pipeline to Gauteng last year is still being dealt with and the polluted soil is being removed and taken to the Enviroserve landfill site. This is not a likely cause at this time. The mushroom farm close to Enviroserve also gives off limited odour from time to time,” said Noyce.

With regards to the unprecedented number of complaints, mostly from residents of the Plantations complex, Noyce said the manager of Envirosrerve, Clive Kidd, met with residents from Plantations recently to discuss the issue. They agreed that an air monitoring station be set up in Plantations.

“An air analyst from Gauteng retrieved an air sample on 4 April to examine. Once the analysis is complete, Mr Kidd will call a meeting with residents to discuss the results and try to find a way forward. He said he is taking these complaints extremely seriously and wants to get to the bottom of the problem.

“The Municipality Waste Water division assures me there has been no problem at the main Hillcrest Treatment Works. However, fat waste traps accumulating huge quantities of fat, if not cleaned regularly, will affect the working of the pumps. This is an ongoing issue. This decaying fat has a strong smell, which the council tries hard to neutralise. This is really a community issue because people should try to support restaurants that are responsible about cleaning their own fat traps. The worst-affected of these are Stonewall Road station, the Oxford Market and possibly even some of the pumps within Plantations which are privately owned and managed and not built to council specifications. This has not been established, however,” added Noyce.

She concluded by saying the part played by the weather is also influential. Still, damp air holds the odours for long periods of time if there is no wind to disperse the odour.

Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay

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