Zululand Observer - Weekender
Concern as Bay air quality worsens
AIR quality in Richards Bay worsened over the past year, raising concerns from pollution watchdogs, especially in light of a number of proposed new industries in the city.
Presenting the 2018 Annual Air Quality Report at the Richards Bay Clean Air Association annual general meeting last week, Lance Coetzee of consultants Golder Associates said, ‘We will definitely have to keep a close watch over this trend.’
Coetzee pointed out that while the NEMAQA Daily Standards apply in terms of legislation, the RBCAA has since 2015 adopted the more stringent World Health Organisation standards.
‘Based on annual concentrations and the health guidelines, PM10 (particulates) is of concern at all monitoring stations, while SO2 (sulphur dioxide) is of concern at Harbour West and Scorpio.’
The association also logged the highest ever number of complaints (418) in its 22-year history, although this was largely attributed to a single incident at Mondi on 14 September 2018 that saw no fewer than 319 complaints - this after a decade of steadily improving figures from the paper mill.
Although they were mainly odour-based, the majority of complainants reported severe health and respiratory impacts.
Top level Mondi representatives explained the anomaly, as well as future plans to eliminate a repetition of the event, to the satisfaction of RBCAA members.
A budget of R15-million has been secured for the necessary upgrades, adding to the R150-million already spent in odour abatement over the past 15 years.
Call to industry
In her annual report, RBCAA Managing Director, Candice Webb, reiterated that the uniqueness of the Section 21 Company lies in the collective voluntary body of expertise, ‘which no amount of money can buy’.
‘We bring together industry, government and the community with the common goal of improving air quality in the region. Today the RBCAA is more relevant and necessary than ever before.
‘We will maintain vigilant on new developments and also encourage existing operations in Richards Bay to plan for emission reduction programmes which, together with the establishment of nonemitting industries, are crucial to the growth of the City of uMhlathuze and the health and well-being of its residents.
‘The positioning of any future industries in the city should be done so that there is no further increase in pollution levels over the residential areas.’
Industry was challenged to give additional financial support for the upgrading of aging equipment, Webb pointing out that the RBCAA, through its services, saves industry millions of rands annually.
‘Despite challenges in 2018, the operation and management of the monitoring system remained of very high standard,’ said Webb.
‘The quality of work and data remain our key asset.’
‘Through the RBCAA leadership there has been a continued commitment from industry to manage their emissions and reduce their impacts.
‘I would like to encourage industry to look not just at their point source emissions, but also fugitive emissions in future emission reduction plans.”
• Members elected to the RBCAA Board of Directors for 2019/2020 are:
Industry – Foskor, Mondi, South32 and RBM;
Non-industry - Sandy Camminga (founder member) and Zululand Fire Protection Association;
Honorary members – Candice Webb and Franz Schmidt.