DEA minister lifts Shongweni landfill suspension

The suspension of EnviroServ's Waste Management Licence at the Shongweni landfill site has been lifted by the Minister of Environmental Affairs. PHOTO: Lloyd Mackenzie

THE Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, decided on a conditional and limited upliftment of the suspension of the EnviroServ Waste Management licence on Monday, 11 December.

EnviroServ approached the Department of Environmental Affairs, claiming to have completed the “mitigation measures” at the Shongweni Landfill and for permission to re-open the site.

However, the lifting of the suspension does not mean that EnviroServ’s Shongweni landfill site is able to trade as yet, since the Upper Highway Air NPC’s interim relief is still in place pending the outcome of their court hearing on 1 February 2018.

ALSO READ: Charge sheet amended in EnviroServ’s criminal case

Lauren Johnson, the founder of the Upper Highway Air NPC said reporting is now more important than ever. “Residents who smell the EnviroServ landfill stench need to report it each and every time.”

Residents in the surrounding communities were awoken to the intoxicating odour at 3am on Tuesday, 12 December. Reports of complaints claim that the stench seems to have stretched from Shongweni and Botha’s Hill, right down to Cowies Hill and Pinetown, clearly indicating that the ‘affected zones’ are now expanding rapidly, regardless of wind direction.

One resident said: “This confirms the total failure of these flare emission measures presently implemented. While acknowledging the DEA in far-away Pretoria will not appreciate the relative distances involved (and hence the number of affected communities), this is precisely why the local eThekweni Council politicians and officials need to be more vigilant and pro-active in this matter, which has yet to be considered at a local council meeting.”

 

UHA’s legal action

Advocate Charmane Nel representing the UHA NPC said the bottom line is that the decision does not mean EnviroServ can commence trading.

“Our interdict operates pending outcome of appeal or our action whichever is the later so they will still have to persuade the high court that they should be permitted to trade. EnviroServ will have to file their supplementary affidavit, we will file a replying affidavit and only then will the court set the matter down for argument. Secondly, the Minister has limited the waste to be receive which includes no liquids. UHA NPC will be pursuing the matter of the decision in any event,” said Nel.

She added that her client has concerns that regardless of the DEA appeal and reviews section saying it was inappropriate for EnviroServ to address the Minister with information outside the appeal process, the Minister has precisely relied on such information without the UHA NPC’s inclusion which is a gross procedural irregularity.

ALSO READ: Shongweni Landfill company claims success but it still stinks

“The Minister also appears to have accepted EnviroServ’s unreliable data in support of the decision despite recording the challenge to the veracity of the information and in light of EnviroServ reneging in its undertaking to provide monitoring protocols which would have enabled the DEA and our experts to address the issue of the reliability of the monitoring data. The Minister also admits impacts persist and complaints have not abated yet permits continued trading where on her own decision it constitutes a continued breach by EnviroServ of its waste management licence,” said Nel.


EnviroServ remains confident

EnviroServ spokesman, Thabiso Taaka said he can confirm that EnviroServ has received notice that the Minister of Environmental Affairs has lifted the suspension notice served on the Shongweni Landfill site with immediate effect.

“As a waste management company with a clean track record stretching back more than 40 years, EnviroServ has always operated with integrity. This move by the Minister shows that our confidence in our remedial actions was justified. The EnviroServ KwaZulu-Natal team of more than 320 staff continue to offer and deliver vital waste services in the province.”

 

Report the smell

You can report the smell either through the UHA website, www.upperhighwayair.co.za or the Upper Highway Air apps for Android and iOS. Reports can be made for everyone over the age of 14, at every location you smell it and if you are at one place and the smell lasts for a long period of time every hour.

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay
Journalist

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