Millions of litres of toxic waste dumped in the ocean

Desmond D'Sa at the Port of Durban, South Africa.

UPPER Highway residents are urged to join forces with members of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) in an attempt to fight for environmental justice.

The SDCEA, lead by community activist, Desmond D’Sa, has called a meeting to discuss the millions of litres of toxic waste the eThekwini Municipality is permitting EnviroServ to dump in the sea through the Southern Sewerage outfall pipeline at Cutting Beach over the next three months. In addition, 4.5 million litres from the Wasteman’s Bul Bul landfill site continues to be trucked monthly to the same sea outfall pipeline at Cuttings Beach. EnviroServ has been given permission to dump 27-million litres of leachate from its Shongweni landfill site.

The meeting will be held at the City of Love Ministries, 96 Rawalpindi Road, Merebank, on Thursday, 15 September at 6pm.

D’Sa said the sewerage system was already stressed to over-capacity and spillages were being experienced in south Durban, causing a high health hazard that had to be addressed as a matter of urgency. He highlighted several points that needed to be addressed by government officials, local councillors and relevant authorities. However, his main focus was centred on the mismanagement of ongoing production of toxic waste by large corporations in KZN, who operated in contradiction to the philosophy of environmental best practice and continue to produce toxic waste.

“The present problem has its roots in the government failing to meaningfully manage and enforce a decrease in production of toxic waste; instead it merely shifts the problem of dumping from one neighbourhood to another, a practice which stretches back to the residential areas of south Durban in the 1990s,” said D’Sa.

“We have already seen disturbing occurrences which might be a result of this toxic waste being dumped at sea with sea turtles and dolphins being washed up on shore and dying in recent days. Therefore, we must become more serious about these issues and put a stop to big companies and government allowing this destruction to take place,” added D’Sa.

Allegations

D’sa claimed that the EnviroServ board, senior and local management were serial non-compliance offenders who had repeatedly broken the law. “Over the last three years they have been warned and fined on 15 occasions. EnviroServ’s allegedly repeated failure to comply with the material conditions of their license are sufficient grounds for termination of their contract,” said D’Sa.

Demands

He said the The SDCEA wanted an immediate halt to the dumping of both EnviroServ’s and Wasteman’s toxic liquid waste into the ocean and for relevant authorities to meet with the relevant communities and other stakeholders to discuss a temporary solution for the handling toxic waste in a manner that did not impact on the communities of Shongweni and south Durban. It also called for EnviroServ and Wasteman to pay the full cost of correctly managing this waste and to set up an independent investigation in the wazste crisis and deliver recommendations to ensure there is a reduction of toxic waste production in KZN.

“Waste should be treated at source. The brine from the treatment will be more concentrated and must not be recycled back into the same landfill. It should be reclassified and the treatment and disposal properly regulated,” said D’Sa who also called for the . government to revoke EnviroServ’s permit to operate the Shongweni landfill.

The Shongweni Landfill site.

The Shongweni Landfill site.

Investigation

The Department of Environmental Affairs is now pursuing a criminal investigation against EnviroServ following the hundreds of complaints received by the community about the noxious odour emanating from landfill site.

According to Lauren Johnson, one of the many affected people in the Upper Highway area, due to the criminal investigations now being initiated by the DEA’s Green Scorpions, the community will have to file affidavits once again. The affidavits are to be completed by people who are willing to testify in court.

“You will need to be as specific as possible and you have to explain that you have been to the landfill and the smell is the same,” said Johnson.

In order for the affadavits to stand up in court, residents will have to explain:

• when the odour commenced;

• describe the odour;

• provide dates and times for when the odour commenced;

• recall the weather conditions at the time of the odour:

• wind speed, direction, temperature -was it raining/just finished raining;

• what effect the odour had on their health including a description of symptoms or diagnosis by a doctor;

• explain what measures you took to safeguard your health;

• what measures you took to counteract the odour – did you purchase devices to attempt to reduce the odour?

• explain what you believe the cause of the odour to be and whether you can confirm this; and finally

• did you lay complaints about the matter-when and with whom? What reaction was provided to the complaint?

Log complaints at www.upperhighwayair.co.za

You may also be interested in:

Residents fuming over ‘toxic’ stench
Hillcrest residents fuming over ‘toxic’ stench
Enviro alliance investigates Shongweni landfill
EnviroServ admits to contributing to Hillcrest odour
Government steps in to investigate Hillcrest stench
‘EnviroServ was a repeat offender’, city official says
EnviroServ responds to Hillcrest odour

  AUTHOR
Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay
Journalist

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