‘Toxic stench’ firm admits to being fined
ENVIROSERV, a company that has come under fire for the stench emanating from a Durban landfill site it operates, has admitted it had been fined five times by the eThekwini Municipality.
The company’s chief executive, Dean Thompson, said the company had been fined five times in the past five years for breaching the city’s bylaws relating to leachate discharged from the waste site it manages in Shongweni.
“We have been fined on five occasions during the last five years, each time on the basis that one of the 17 standard parametres set and measured by eThekwini exceeded the required standard,” said Thompson.
The release of the statement followed a closed emergency environmental meeting on Thursday gatecrashed by about 100 angry Hillcrest residents affected by the fumes, who accuse the company of doing nothing to address the situation. They streamed into the meeting uninvited, hoping to plead their case to senior officials of the environmental affairs department (DEA) present at the meeting.
A representative from eThekwini Water and Sanitation, who introduced herself as Simphiwe, told the meeting that EnviroServ had been fined for by-law transgression on more than one occasion.
Responding to questions, she said “(They have been fined for by-law transgressions) for about five years. They get an admission of guilt fine. According to bylaws, they currently pay R1 000.”
The crowd erupted at the disclosure, asking how many times exactly EnviroServ had been fined over the past five years and why, if it was a re- peat offender, the matter had not been escalated.
EnviroServ was only one of the sources of the stench and it was taking “the most decisive action” to deal with the odour. Thompson did not say who else was responsible for the noxious odour.
The Shongweni site is operated by EnviroServ in terms of a waste management licence issued by the DEA and a sewer discharge licence issued by the municipality.
At Thursday’s meeting, DEA deputy director general of chemicals and waste management, Mark Gordon, said about 300 complaints about the stench were being received each week.
He said the department had sent EnviroServ a letter on August 22, after meeting the company, which detailed actions EnviroServ had to comply with.