update


Waste disposal companies respond to toxic dumping allegations

The Shongweni Landfill site.

WASTE disposal company, EnviroServ and Wasteman (Averda), stand strongly by their statement that they are not dumping toxic waste into the ocean, following an article about a meeting called to address community’s concerns.

The meeting which is scheduled to take place at City of Love Ministries, 96 Rawalpindi Road in Merebank at 6pm today, is expected to provide a platform for the relevant authorities to respond to the growing allegations against the waste disposal companies.

Both companies have issued a response.

Dean Thompson, EnviroServ Group CEO, said there was no evidence or scientific study to prove that EnviroServ’s treated effluent was responsible for killing marine life at Cuttings Beach and said he viewed the allegations in a serious light. Thompson added that claims that EnviroServ had been fined 15 times over the past five years were factually incorrect.

“In this period we have received five fines for not meeting one of the 17 standard parameters as measured by the Municipality. These fines do not relate to a major non-compliance or criminal prosecution but are rather administrative in nature. We have made sure that systems have been improved to avoid any technical non-compliance of any standard parameter in the future. EnviroServ strongly denies that we have “repeatedly failed to comply on any material conditions of our licence” as per Mr D’Sa’s claim,” he said.

He said external and internal compliance audits are conducted routinely and independently of its operational entities. At the last external audit by the DEA in May, the Shongweni landfill achieved 99.2 percent, which is only a minor non-compliance.

“We have also been accused of dumping toxic waste into the ocean. The Shongweni landfill site does not dump any waste into the sea at all.. Our Effluent Treatment Plant is fully operational and can treat the leachate, liquid generated as a result of the biodegradation process within a landfill, on site. However, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) instructed us to speed up the process by emptying our leachate tanks and stormwater dams and (as authorised by eThekwini Water and Sanitation) send this effluent to Southern Waste Water Treatment Works for legal disposal.

“There are literally hundreds of other industries which use Southern Waste Water Treatment works to dispose of their effluent – the Shongweni landfill’s effluent is just a fraction of this. Importantly, before the effluent is accepted for disposal, it has to meet meticulous standards which are governed by the eThekwini Municipality,” added Thompson.

He said his company had not been notified of any criminal investigation by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

“The DEA is investigating the possible contravention of certain site permit conditions and legislative provisions at the Shongweni landfill site. We have neither been issued with a non-compliance notice, nor have any charges been laid against the company arising from its operation of the Shongweni site. We have, however, been informed of an investigation into the possible contravention of certain legislative provisions. We understand further that Enviroserv has not been singled out by the DEA in this regard.

“Well before the DEA’s current investigation, Enviroserv had of its own accord assembled a task team to investigate and verify allegations by local residents regarding odours. The reports were submitted to the DEA and resulted in an 11-point action plan being prepared and agreed upon. That plan is currently being implemented within the agreed time frames,” said Thompson.

Averda, which recently acquired Wasteman, stands firmly on the fact that it does not dump any toxic waste, or any other type of waste in the ocean.

According to Johan van den Berg, Averda South Africa’s managing director, Averda treats its liquid waste on site to meet and comply with acceptable disposal standards set by government. The treated leachate is sent to the municipal water treatment facility for disposal. Random tests are conducted on select samples on a continual basis to ensure compliance by all users. These samples are sent for analysis to an external government body (CSIR) to ensure compliance.

“Averda is one of the main founders of ‘Project MainStream’, a global initiative launched in 2014. We are a responsible global waste management organisation – we respect life, in whichever form it may come: fish, wildlife, plants, soil and water. We are doing everything in our power to leave our children a legacy of environmental responsibility, sustainability and care,” said Van Den Berg.

Van Den Berg said he was aware of the allegations recently made against Wasteman, now Averda, by Mr D’Sa and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA regarding the dumping of waste from the Bulbul site into the ocean.

“The allegations – are completely unfounded. The liquid waste (leachate) generated by the permanent disposal activities carried out in Bulbul landfill is sent for further treatment and permanent disposal to Ethekwini Water Services (EWS). EWS are responsible for monitoring the quality and environmental parameters of the landfill’s leachate, ensuring we comply fully with our environmental permit’s obligations and specifications,” added Van Den Berg.

You may also be interested in:

Hillcrest residents fuming over ‘toxic’ stench
Enviro alliance investigates Shongweni landfill
EnviroServ admits to contributing to Hillcrest odour

  AUTHOR
Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay
Journalist

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