Sunday World

New bid to challenge Shell seismic survey

Wild Coast residents head to court to halt the study

- By Johnnie Isaac

Shell’s victory against an urgent court interdict by a group of environmen­tal activists could be short-lived if another urgent court interdict by a different group of environmen­tal activists succeeds.

The interdict was lodged on the eve of the Friday court ruling that gave Shell the green light to carry out its seismic study from this month.

The urgent applicatio­n has been brought by at least seven interest parties, including members of Wild Coast communitie­s.

The parties include Sustaining the Wild Coast, a non-profit organisati­on that works to promote sustainabl­e livelihood­s that construct, rehabilita­te and protect the natural environmen­t on the Wild Coast.

Sustaining the Wild Coast is joined by traditiona­l healer Mashona Wetu Dlamini, who is based at Sigidi village in Umgungundl­ovu, which forms part of the Amadiba traditiona­l community.

Dlamini acts in the interests of protecting the environmen­t on behalf of traditiona­l healers along the Wild Coast and for Umgungundl­ovu community.

Another party to this litigation is the Dwesa-cwebe Communal Property Associatio­n, which is the successful land claimants through the Restitutio­n of Land Rights Act No 22 of 1994.

A Port St Johns fisherman named Ntsindiso Nongcavu has also joined the urgent interdict on behalf of his fellow Wild Coast fishers.

The failed interdict to stop Shell from blasting the Eastern Cape Wild Coast was lodged by the Border Deep Sea Angling Associatio­n, the Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club, Natural Justice and environmen­tal movement Greenpeace.

They acted after Shell issued a notice late in October that its entity Shell Exploratio­n and Production South Africa intended to commence with a 3D seismic survey in the Transkei exploratio­n area off the East Coast of South Africa from the start of this month.

On Friday, Grahamstow­n High Court acting judge Avinash Govindjee dismissed the applicatio­n with costs.

As with the failed interdict, the new applicatio­n argues that the seismic study will cause significan­t harm not only to the environmen­t, but also to communitie­s’ livelihood­s, culture and heritage.

The new interdict applicatio­n differs from the first one in that its parties argue that the seismic study will not only be harmful, but is also unlawful because Shell only has rights under the Minerals and Petroleum Act, but not environmen­tal authorisat­ion to conduct the exploratio­n under the National Environmen­tal Management Act.

They argue that the incredible sound of blasting between 220 and 250 decibels is louder than a jet plane taking off and will be heard underwater more than 100km away.

They say this will be a threat to marine life including whales, dolphins, the Wild Coast famous kingfish.

It is also a threat to the economy of the coastal communitie­s that are dependent on fishing for livelihood and incomes.

These communitie­s say fish forms part of their daily diet, while the traditiona­l healers say that they use the sea water and sand in some of their healing rituals.

Shell is also accused of seeking profits through oil and gas while worsening the planet’s climate crisis.

Judge Govindjee said in his ruling they failed to convince the court that there was a well-grounded apprehensi­on of irreparabl­e harm to the marine environmen­t if the interim relief they sought was not granted.

Seismic study will cause significan­t harm to the environmen­t

 ?? /Gallo Images ?? Protestors gather at the Waterfront waiting the arrival of the Amazon Warrior.
/Gallo Images Protestors gather at the Waterfront waiting the arrival of the Amazon Warrior.

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