Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries provides update in relation to the mercury containing waste in Cato Ridge, KwaZulu Natal

11 November 2019 

The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, has reiterated her commitment to the expeditious and safe removal of highly toxic and hazardous mercury-containing waste from the Thor Chemicals facility in Cato Ridge, KwaZulu-Natal.

Following engagements with Thor Chemicals (Thor), the company has provided the Department with a final commitment to remove and dispose of the waste at their own cost. 

A team of specialists was employed following the fire on 24 August 2019 to assess all the relevant information accumulated over time so that the overall damage that may have been caused to the environment may be quantified.  This is in relation to the storage of the waste, and damage caused by the fire.  

The air emissions expert, working in consultation with a Health Risk Assessment practitioner, will soon be concluding their work. The Department of Water and Sanitation, together with the eThekwini municipality, is also regularly sampling the watercourses in the immediate vicinity and issues alerts as and when it is required to do so.  

In addition, an interdepartmental team of officials, dispatched to this property following the fire incident, has been actively dealing with any impacts stemming from this situation.  The situation at the site is contained and the final specialist reports will be released soon.  

On the basis of the preliminary results, it appears that the impact of the fire was limited. However, this remains subject to final verification by a team of interdepartmental specialists.  In this regard, the community will receive further updates on the final results through their elected representatives.  

In relation to the arson investigation being conducted by the South African Police Service, we wish to advise that they are yet to release the findings of their investigation.  
The timeframes for commencement of the removal of the waste are being finalised as part of the total care programme that will be implemented.  

Because Thor is appointing the service providers to remove the waste and implement this programme, any queries related to final costs should be directed to Thor.   

For media queries contact:
Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871