EnviroServ admits to contributing to Hillcrest odour

FOLLOWING months of trying to pin point where the awful odour in Hillcrest is emanating from, Enviroserv has finally admitted that a leachate storage tank at the Shongweni landfill site has been contributing to the odours.

According to Dean Thompson, CEO of EnviroServ, the company responded immediately once they became aware of the Hillcrest odour issue. EnviroServ initiated a meeting with community members from Plantations Estate, Hillcrest, Winston Park and surrounding areas. A representative Working Group (which includes community representatives, municipal officials, air quality specialists and an independent health consultant) was established to determine the source of the odours and the associated health impacts experienced in the greater Hillcrest area. EnviroServ acknowledged that the Shongweni landfill site might be contributing to the odour problem.

“In tackling this uniquely complex challenge the Working Group decided to rely on the science-based work of experts. In addition to the air quality specialist appointed by EnviroServ (GeoZone Environmental) the company agreed to fund the appointment by the community of Golder Associates to represent community interests,” said Thompson.

Following extensive research, the air quality specialists presented their findings to the Working Group at a meeting on Wednesday, 27 July. Based on available data they concluded “that a leachate storage tank at the Shongweni landfill site has been contributing to the odours being experienced; it is unlikely that emissions from the Shongweni landfill site are the sole source of malodour in the area, or indeed the sole cause of the recent odour complaints by the wider Hillcrest residents; and the level of contaminants thus far sampled in the community cannot be responsible for the chronic health effects being reported.”

Leachate Storage tank

This means during the biodegrading process of waste, one of the by-products that is generated is a liquid called leachate. This liquid/leachate percolates through the waste body and is then collected via a engineered leachate collection system and stored in a leachate storage tank. From this storage tank, the leachate is then processed through the leachate treatment plant for final discharge.

Corrective action

Thompson said his company has accepted the findings of the specialists and is implementing corrective actions to reduce the odours emanating from the leachate tank. These actions include an ozone-based oxidation process as an additional treatment for the leachate, and covering the leachate collection tank. They have also invited the Working Group to monitor the corrective actions.

“We anticipate an immediate and significant reduction in emissions from our site once these actions have been completed. The fact that the appointed experts have identified other sources that impact negatively on air quality may, however, mean that the community will continue to experience malodours. These other potential sources, as identified by the independent specialists, include the multi-fuel pipeline, various municipal waste-water treatment plants and pump stations, as well as other agricultural and industrial activities. We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused and assure you that we are taking all necessary steps to mitigate our contribution to the malodours experienced by the community,” said Thompson.

Resident’s response

Lauren Johnson, a member of the Working Group and one of the many residents affected by this odour said progress has definitely been made and last night’s meeting really showed the wheel turning.

“The statement is accurate however rather one-sided and subjective. They are implementing these steps and they say it should take around six to eight weeks. They make no mention of anything the Municipality said or challenged them on with regards to their air samples, equipment or procedures. A community statement is being compiled and will be issued shortly by the Municipality,” said Johnson.

She added that the community is standing together on this and doing their part is being noticed, and so is urging residents to keep reporting and logging complaints to www.upperhighwayair.co.za

The investigation follows various reports of residents and animals in the area being sick. The reports include residents experiencing nausea, headaches, nose bleeds, tight chest, sinusitus, burning eyes, eczema and dizziness. There were also reports of horses suffering from nosebleeds and birds dying in the area.

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Read related articles:
Hillcrest residents fuming over ‘toxic’ stench
Residents fuming over ‘toxic’ stench
Enviro alliance investigates Shongweni landfill

 

  AUTHOR
Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay
Journalist

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