The Department of Environmental Affairs’ Green Scorpions issue directives to address Environmental Impacts Associated with operations at Interwaste’s FG Landfill Site
16 February 2017
The Green Scorpions from the national Department of Environmental Affairs initiated an investigation at the FG landfill site in Midrand, during February 2016. This process resulted in a criminal investigation where a number of samples and documents were seized for further consideration.
In addition, investigations by the Green Scorpions were undertaken at night and during the early hours of the morning, when the malodour is at its most intense, as advised 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 other things, 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, among other things, 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.
It should be noted that Interwaste is entitled to lodge an appeal against the Directive with the Minister as well as a request to suspend the Directive.
The Department is further aware of the legal challenges to the validity of the Interwaste Waste Management Licence which was launched by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) and the Department has been informed that argument in this matter will be heard in the South Gauteng High court during March 2017.
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