Smoky start-up for Sapref in south Durban
THE Bergville CBD was strewn with litter since last week after striking Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers went on the rampage. They had spilled rubbish all over town demanding to be paid outstanding money by the Okhahlamba Municipality.
Smoke bellowed out from chimney stacks at the refinery in Prospecton, with the communities of Bluff, Wentworth, Merebank and Isipingo surrounding it. Sapref said they began the phased start-up of the refinery after planned maintenance activities were completed in May.
“This process is expected to run until we have all units back online on June 20. During this period there will be intermittent steam venting and flaring, dependent on the unit being started up. All care will be taken to ensure we minimise the impact to the environment and community.
“As part of the refinery start-up that is currently being conducted, they experienced black smoke. We apologise for the impact this is having on the community as well as the environment. Our team is working on resolving this as soon as possible,” a statement from Sapref read.
SDCEA spokesperson Desmond D’SA lambasted Sapref “for filling our lungs with highly toxic poison”.
“The company continues to have double standards. Changing its management has not stopped the company from continuously dumping its highly toxic poison, creating the highest asthma rate in South Africa: 53.5%.
“The refinery’s recent episode with huge flaring of unburnt hydrocarbons is a prime example of a company that does not respect black lives and is totally indifferent to our families and homes, which are still stinking of this pollution that entered through our windows, doors and roofs. The company must be held accountable,” he said.
Merebank Residents’ Association spokesperson Raven Naidoo said they were informed timeously of the planned start-up and possibility of smoke coming from the chimney stacks.
“There was a larger volume of smoke than expected. The smoke blew in a southerly direction towards Isipingo and the sea. They did apologise to residents and we communicated this through our Whatsapp chat groups,” Naidoo said.
Sapref receives crude oil from ships, the oil is discharged by tankers at the single buoy mooring (SBM) about 2.5 kilometres off the coast near Prospecton, and enters the refinery through an underground pipeline.
The oil is stored in tanks, from where it is fed into the refinery. Sapref manages the SBM on behalf of industry. Some 80% of the country's crude oil is supplied via the SBM.