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Directive issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs to address environmental impacts associated with operations at Interwaste’s FG landfill site

24 February 2017

 

The Green Scorpions from the national Department of Environmental Affairs initiated an investigation at the FG landfill site during February 2016.  This process resulted in a criminal investigation where a number of samples and documents were seized.  In addition, investigations by the Green Scorpions had to be undertaken at night and during the early hours of the morning when the malodour is at its most intense, as experienced by the residents in the area.  This investigation has been completed and the docket was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions to make a decision on whether or not to pursue a prosecution. 

As the criminal investigation was unfolding, the Department further resorted to instituting an administrative enforcement process with the intent to compel Interwaste to undertake a number of specialist studies which, amongst others, sought to quantify the risk of the emissions emanating from the site and the impact thereof on the residents in the vicinity of the FG landfill site.  This administrative process commenced in February 2016 and was followed by a number of interactions between the Department and Interwaste which resulted in certain commitments by Interwaste.  At the same time Interwaste, as an immediate intervention to ameliorate the emissions from the FG landfill site, installed a 2000m³ flare which was proposed at the time to be the solution for this undesirable situation.

Complaints nonetheless were still being reported on an ongoing basis and having noted that not all of the commitments were being implemented by Interwaste, a fresh notice of intent requesting Interwaste to make further representations was issued in October 2016.

Considering the representations that were put forward by the company, particularly the commitments made in the October 2016 representations, the Department decided to issue Interwaste with a final Directive dated 10 February 2017.  The Department instructed Interwaste to, amongst others, cease with all disposal activities at the FG landfill site within 5 (five) working days from receipt of the Directive as well as to undertake certain specialist studies and submit specific information to the Department within specific timeframes.

Interwaste thereafter brought an urgent application against the Directive that was issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs in the South Gauteng High court on Friday, 17 February 2017,to suspend the operation of the directive pending finalisation of the appeal.

In the meantime, the Greater Midstream Forum lodged an application with the Minister of Environmental Affairs for an order not to suspend the operation of the directive pending the outcome of the appeal.  Interwaste has been afforded until the 28th of February 2017 to respond to the application by the Greater Midstream Forum.

Interwaste have also withdrawn their urgent application in the South Gauteng High Court.  In turn, the Department have undertaken not to enforce the directive until such time as the Minister has made a decision on the application by the Greater Midstream Forum.

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