Smelly land­fills make lo­cals very an­gry

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - ANNA COX anna.cox@inl.co.za

FU­RI­OUS res­i­dents and prop­erty own­ers are de­mand­ing that stern ac­tion be taken against a Joburg com­pany run­ning a smelly land­fill that has forced some to con­tem­plate shut­ting down their busi­nesses and de­val­ued homes.

In­ter­waste, a land­fill com­pany which runs rub­bish sites, is ac­cused of mak­ing life a liv­ing hell for both fac­tory work­ers around the Wyn­berg/Kew/Alexan­dra ar­eas and prop­erty own­ers in Midrand.

The smell has be­come so bad that fac­to­ries are un­able to rent out their premises and peo­ple in Midrand are fail­ing to find buy­ers for their prop­er­ties.

Luigi Stravino, who runs a plant in Kew, and who speaks on be­half of all neigh­bour­ing fac­tory own­ers, says the fa­cil­ity was set up over the De­cem­ber/Jan­uary pe­riod with­out any of their con­sent.

The lo­ca­tion is at the cor­ner of 2nd Av­enue and Wyn­berg Road.

“The stench from the land­fill is ab­so­lutely un­bear­able. We can­not open win­dows. Our staff have downed tools sev­eral times as they say they can­not eat their break­fast, lunch and din­ner with the smell. They al­ready had a protest by march­ing to the land­fill but noth­ing was done. They are threat­en­ing an­other march. Be­sides our staff, we have cus­tomers who visit these premises and it is un­ac­cept­able that they have to put up with this smell.

“Ba­si­cally, we have tried all non-in­va­sive meth­ods to ad­dress the is­sue with In­ter­waste but the com­pany has dis­missed us on ev­ery ap­proach. They are a big pub­lic com­pany and we have to deal with their lawyer who treats us like his refuse. I have all the neigh­bours sup­port­ing this ini­tia­tive. The odour, dust and flies com­ing from this busi­ness is un­bear­able and we re­ally need some as­sis­tance to stop this in­jus­tice,” he added.

“There is a lady in the street who has run a restau­rant in the area and is now los­ing busi­ness be­cause of the smell,” he said, adding that all busi­nesses in the area are suf­fer­ing.

Rick Raven, a town plan­ner em­ployed by the busi­nesses, con­firmed that a nox­ious in­dus­try is a use that is not per­mit­ted un­der an “In­dus­trial 1” zon­ing.

In Midrand, there are sim­i­lar prob­lems.

Janet Schofield, speak­ing for res­i­dents, said that in the mid­dle of 2014 mem­bers of the res­i­dents’ com­mit­tees from Glen Austin, Rand­jes­fontein and Mid­stream were aware of strong ob­nox­ious odours which orig­i­nated from the FG Land­fill site.

“Many res­i­dents were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing cer­tain health prob­lems, es­pe­cially coughs and res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tions.”

The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs was con­tacted and or­dered to shut the fa­cil­ity down, but the com­pany ap­pealed and the judge left it up to the min­is­ter to de­cide on its fate, said Schofield.

In ad­di­tion, the ef­fects on an­i­mals such as horses, dogs and cats are be­ing no­ticed by many lo­cal vets and there are re­ports of large num­bers of birds dy­ing.

One sig­nif­i­cant com­ment made dur­ing a meet­ing at the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s of­fice was that the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs has very lit­tle con­trol over what goes into land­fill sites. This is be­cause, at the end of 2013, the min­is­ter of that depart­ment saw fit to amend the Waste Man­age­ment Act, with­out con­duct­ing any en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact assess­ment or gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion on how this would af­fect pol­lu­tion.

ODOUR CURE: Pic­tures sup­plied by the waste com­pany show the progress ap­par­ently be­ing made at the de­pot to clean up the place.

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