Deafening silence

AFTER a promising start at intervention in alleged environmental law-breaking at the Marselle/Bushman’s River dumpsite earlier this year, the Green Scorpions have fallen silent on the matter.

In May, three months after an on-site visit to the dumpsite and the launch of a probe, the department of economic development and environmental affairs’ (Dedea) compliance and enforcement unit issued a “notice of intention to issue a compliance notice” to the municipality.

The notice of intention is one of the administrative processes the Green Scorpions have to go through before actually taking action, and, at the time, senior manager Div de Villiers told TotT the process is drawn out when one government department is dealing with another.

Dedea found a number of irregularities with the dump, including the lack of a permit to operate the dumpsite, failure to separate combustible and non-combustible waste, failure to properly contain waste or put recycling measures in place, and failure to cover waste daily with a 150mm layer of soil.

The burning of rubbish at the dump has been the bane of Kenton-on-Sea resident David Burr’s life, as the noxious smoke wafts across the Bushman’s River into his home.

Burr succeeded in getting the Green Scorpions to investigate, and also got a criminal case docket opened by the police.

Although the municipality has blamed vagrants or unknown persons for starting the fires, Burr firmly believes the municipality has been setting the fires as a means of reducing the mass of waste on site.

He wants the municipality to be held accountable for years of alleged contravention of environmental laws.

The police have asked Dedea to co-operate with their investigation and provide relevant documentation relating to the case.

In a follow-up letter to Dedea on August 29, acting cluster commander Colonel Lizette Zeelie said on site visits to the dump by the SAPS investigating officer brought other problems to the fore, such as the site being “probably 95% filled to capacity” with mountains of rubbish higher than the fences around the dump, which results in the wind blowing rubbish across open fields and into the Bushman’s River.

In the notice of intention, Ndlambe municipality was afforded an opportunity to make representations in writing to Dedea within 10 working days if the municipality believed there were any compelling reasons why it should not be issued with a final compliance notice ordering them to immediately cease and desist all waste disposal activities at the site.

Neither Dedea nor the municipality has answered TotT’s queries on what representations were made, if any.

Since the notice, there have been two more large fires at the dump, one of which burned for six days.

The municipality says it has begun to address the issues raised by Dedea, but the lack of any consequences for repeated contraventions is discouraging.

– Jon Houzet

Leave a Reply

Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment moderation policy. Your email address is required but will not be published.