News 5.4.2017 01:28 pm

DEA suspends operations at Shongweni Landfill site

The Department of Environmental Affairs is currently investigating the malodour at Shongweni Landfill site, owned by waste management company, EnviroServ. PHOTO: Lloyd Mackenzie.

The Department of Environmental Affairs is currently investigating the malodour at Shongweni Landfill site, owned by waste management company, EnviroServ. PHOTO: Lloyd Mackenzie.

The DEA said the decision was made after the company failed to comply with the provisions of the law and conditions of the WML.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has suspended all acceptance, treatment and disposal of waste at the EnviroServ Waste Management’s Shongweni Landfill Site, Durban in terms of section 56 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act on Tuesday.

According to a press statement released by the DEA, the suspension comes into effect within four working days of receipt of the Notice, and will remain in force until such time that the Department notifies EnviroServ in writing that disposal of waste may recommence and under what conditions, the Highway Mail reported.

“Despite many interventions implemented by EnviroServ to comply with the instructions contained in the Compliance Notice, there is still an unacceptably high level of landfill gases being emitted from the Shongweni landfill site, which the authorities have confirmed to be the source of the malodour emanating from the site.

“The decision to suspend the Waste Management Licence (WML) is therefore one of the significant steps to a permanent solution to this catastrophic situation,” said the DEA in its statement.

The DEA said the decision was made after the company failed to comply with the provisions of the law and conditions of the WML.

It believes there is a potential threat to human health and/or the environment resulting from the operations at the Shongweni Landfill Site.

Residents marched against the toxic stench in Hillcrest earlier this year. Picture: Thobele Nzama

“The department carefully and meticulously considered all of the reasons provided by EnviroServ as to why the company would consider it unfair and inappropriate for their Licence to be suspended or revoked and has made a decision to suspend the part of the Licence which allows for the acceptance, treatment and disposal activities at the site,” said the DEA.

EnviroServ’s CEO, Dean Thompson is expected to appear in the Durban High Court on Tuesday, 11 April after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) formally charged EnviroServ.

UHA NPC takes legal action

Meanwhile, the Upper Highway Air NPC filed a combined summons against EnviroServ Waste management company, CEO Dean Thompson, technical director Esme Gombault and four other defendants at the Durban High Court on Monday, 3 April.

The summons stipulated charges which arise from the alleged breaches by EnviroServ of the conditions of its waste management licences; statutory and regulatory provisions applicable to the conduct of its waste management operations at Shongweni; the infringement of members’ of the public’s Constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being and the common law duty of care owed to members of the public not to negatively impact upon them or pollute the environment.

The Ministers of Environmental Affairs, Water and Sanitation as well as other provincial and local functionaries have been cited as interested parties, although no relief is sought against them.

In a statement released by the Upper Highway Air NPC, the committee said: “This in no way detracts from the DEA’s enforcement procedures regarding, among other things, the process underway in which a decision is yet to be made as to whether EnviroServ’s waste management licence will be suspended or revoked. We look forward to the DEA’s decision in this regard.”

The relief sought by Upper Highway Air in the action is for the interdict of the operations in the event that the DEA has not already suspended/revoked EnviroServ’s licence by the time the matter reaches trial. The aim of the interdict is to restrain the waste management company from conducting any of its activities except for remedial action at the Shongweni Landfill site.

EnviroServ’s CEO Dean Thompson said: “We confirm having received the summons. Our lawyers are reviewing the charges and will respond in due course.”

Meanwhile the Upper Highway Air NPC has contracted WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff to conduct their air, water and soil testing on their behalf. Thus far, the company has discovered Hydrogen Sulphate (which affected the Ph levels). However, the study only commenced in March and final results will only be available towards the end of June.

Lauren Johnson, one of the directors of the UHA NPC said they are eagerly awaiting the decision of the DEA on their s56 notice and hopes that it is favourable to the affected community.

Residents creating awareness about the Upper Highway malodour.

When asked what procedures they thought should be carried out if the landfill licence is revoked or suspended, Johnson said correct engineering solutions need to be implemented to cease further pollution of the environment. She suggested that the waste stream could be taken to another hazardous waste landfill in Stanger such as Dolphin Coast Landfill.

Caxton News Service

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