EnviroServ responds to Hillcrest odour

The leachate tanks that have been storing waste water.

Following the recent meeting regarding the controversial landfill site at Shongweni, EnviroServ has issued a response, which read: 

ENVIROSERV is Africa’s leading waste management brand. To retain that position, we need to make sure that we remain committed to the highest levels of legal and environmental compliance. In recent months we have had complaints from the community surrounding our Shongweni landfill site. We’re working hard to find solutions to the odour problem and make sure we do everything in our professional and technical capability to stay a good neighbour.

Community engagement is by its nature an emotional thing, and in the heat of disagreement, truth often becomes a victim. And while we have a long way to go to where we want to be in this community, it is perhaps useful to all that a few points be clarified on this issue, particularly some which were raised at last week’s Monitoring Committee meeting held in Shongweni.

The first thing to note is that the current malodour has a number of sources – we are just one. We are also the facility taking the most decisive action. While this should not afford us any particular accolade, it is true to say that we are to date the only one doing so. And we will continue to do so.

The Shongweni site operates in terms of a Waste Management Licence issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs and a Sewer Discharge Licence issued by the eThekwini Municipality Water and Sanitation Division. The Discharge Licence permits the disposal of leachate to the Southern Waste Water Treatment works. The effluent quality is meticulously monitored by the local authority. Those present at the meeting were led to believe that we have been fined for non-compliance for every load disposed of over the last five years. This is not the case. We have been fined on five occasions during the last five years, each time on the basis that one of the 17 standard parameters set and measured by eThekwini exceeded the required standard. These fines are entirely administrative in nature and importantly, do not relate to a major non-compliance or criminal prosecution.

A recently installed Effluent Treatment Plant is operational at the Shongweni landfill site to treat the leachate generated, and we believe this will reduce the requirement to dispose off-site.

There have been accusations from the community of ill-health caused by the malodour. It is important to note that at Shongweni, the average duration of employment is eight years, while our longest-serving employee has been with us for 24 years, and that not one of our employees has ever presented with an occupational disease related to their exposure to the waste we accept on site. EnviroServ has a medical surveillance programme for employees based on the types of waste accepted and we conduct pre-employment medicals, annual medicals, and exit medical checks.

We are committed to the remedial process at Shongweni which we have agreed to with the Department of Environmental Affairs, which will see us spending an additional R15-million on the site this year in an effort to lessen the malodourous effects of the leachate.

In the meantime, we will communicate closely with the community surrounding the area and keep them informed as things progress.

Deon Thompson

EnviroServ CEO

*Letter shortened – Editor.

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