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Department of Environmental Affairs suspends acceptance, treatment and disposal of waste at Enviroserv’s Shongweni Landfill Site

04 April 2017

 

The Department of Environmental Affairs has, today 04 April 2017, suspended acceptance, treatment and disposal of waste at the EnviroServ Waste Management (PTY) Ltd Shongweni Landfill Site in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal, in terms of section 56 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) (NEM: WA).

The suspension comes into effect within four working days of receipt of the Notice, and will remain in force until such time that the Department notifies EnviroServ in writing that disposal of waste may recommence and under what conditions.

Despite many interventions implemented by EnviroServ to comply with the instructions contained in the Compliance Notice, there is still an unacceptably high level of landfill gases being emitted from the Shongweni landfill site, which the authorities have confirmed to be the source of the malodour emanating from the site. The decision to suspend the Waste Management Licence (WML) is therefore one of the significant steps to a permanent solution to this catastrophic situation.  

The decision comes as the company failed to comply with the provisions of the law and conditions of the Waste Management Licence. It is the Department’s view that there is a potential threat to human health and/or the environment resulting from the operations at the Shongweni Landfill Site. The Department believes that this situation should have been anticipated and remedial actions put in place long before the current state of affairs at the site.

In arriving at the decision, the Department carefully and meticulously considered all of the reasons provided by EnviroServ as to why the company would consider it unfair and inappropriate for their Licence to be suspended or revoked and has made a decision to suspend the part of the Licence which allows for the acceptance, treatment and disposal activities at the site.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has formally charged EnviroServ (case number: 132/09/2016) and it is expected to appear in court on 11 April 2017. Further details of the case may be obtained from NPA.

For media queries, contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871 


Background / History

During the early part of 2016, the Department started receiving intermittent malodour and health related complaints relating to the operation of the Shongweni Landfill Site situated in the KwaZulu Natal province and is being operated by EnviroServ Waste Management (Pty) Ltd (“EnviroServ”). These complaints were especially received from people living in close proximity to this site.

Being health and odour-related, several complaints were referred to local health authorities as at the time the company did not agree that they were the main source of the problem.  The DEA then undertook a compliance inspection in May 2016. After a meeting held in August 2016 between officials from the Department, representatives from EnviroServ, as well as members from the community situated in close proximity to the Shongweni Landfill Site, EnviroServ submitted a letter to the Department, containing various remedial actions for immediate implementation at the facility.

The Department’s Deputy Director-General: Chemicals and Waste Management shortly thereafter issued EnvirServ with a letter of instruction which identified measures which needed to be undertaken immediately in order to reduce and mitigate some of the odour and health related issues.

In order to the address the issues raised in the aforementioned letter, EnviroServ provided the Department with an “11-Point Action Plan” which indicated how the facility will be implementing the measures and included, inter-alia, the extended suspension of the acceptance and disposal of all Type 1 wastes; a commitment to decant and dispose of all stored leachate and contaminated storm water, offsite; to convene an urgent Monitoring Committee meetings; to provide a detailed leachate and Storm Water Management Plan; to undertake a Toxicological study and Technical Assessment of the site and to provide a detailed inventory of all waste streams accepted by the site.

This “11 Point Action Plan” has since however been superseded by a Pre-Compliance Notice (“PCN”) in terms of section 31L of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (“NEMA”) and subsequent Compliance Notice (“CN”) dated 21 October 2016 which incorporated a number of the aspects stipulated in the “11 Point Action Plan” into the instructions contained in the CN. These enforcement notices followed further inspections conducted in August 2016.

Since the CN has been issued, EnviroServ has provided proof of compliance in relation to certain instructions in the CN, while the timeframes for compliance with a few of the other instructions have been varied. A second variation request was also been received by the Department. EnviroServ formally requested that certain instructions contained in the CN be suspended until the objection process has been completed.

At the same time as the Green Scorpions were taking administrative enforcement action in 2016, as an immediate intervention to fast track a resolution of the malodours, a decision was made by eThekwini Municipality to reduce the validity period of the Scheduled Trade Permit that was issued to EnviroServ. Enviroserv are no longer allowed to discharge their treated leachate at the Southern Works Waste Water Treatment Works.  This was done in order to ensure that EnviroServ made significant and meaningful progress towards the resolution of issues contributing to off-site impacts.