Green Scorpions Investigate Richards Bay Minerals for Allegedly Dumping Toxic Waste in Community.
11 May 2018 - Green Scorpions has decided to investigate Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) for environmental violations; this is after groundWork filed a complaint against them on behalf of the KwaMbonambi community. The KwaMbonambi, Sokhulu and Enhlanzini communities, affected by waste dumping, are concerned that the waste is causing increased rates of cancer and destruction to their community and environment. These concerns were raised during ongoing research and community monitoring done by Kwazulu Regional Christian Council. Some of the other complaints include the dumping area not being adequately fenced off, people have lost their livestock, which are routinely trapped in the dumping area, and worry about their children being the next victims to this environmental injustice.
KRCC reached out to groundWork to assist on this matter, who investigated to get a clearer picture and finally visited the toxic dumping site. RBM, which is situated within the community, has been mining dunes and dredging in the area. The waste slimes coming from the sand mining process, has created a host of health and agricultural issues, which pose a threat to their livelihood and environment as a whole. The slimes dumping started in the 1970’s, it is a by-product of the metallurgical industry, and is a hazardous substance that needs to be treated as toxic.
The site is marked as a slimes dam and it is approximately 120 metres from the sea shore and the community believe that the slime dump is impacting the groundwater and leaching into the ocean. Furthermore, there are more than 10 slimes carrying trucks per day driving through the community to dispose the waste in the dump. This also causes problems for the community, as heavy traffic impacts negatively on the community and their road infrastructure.
groundWork’s Waste Campaigner, Musa Chamane said;
“We have reported the issue to the Green Scorpions and we look forward to the Green Scorpions, Provincial Authority and Coastal Pollution Management Directorate’s findings, so that we can report back to the community.”
It is not clear whether the slimes dam is permitted as this is not clearly displayed. Waste disposal or storage sites, are by law, required to have clear signage reflecting classification of waste material being dumped or stored, whether it’s toxic or general waste. The signage should also show who the license holder is. The dumpsite should also have an underground liner to prevent seepage of hazardous liquid waste, making sure that groundwater is not contaminated.
The positioning of the slimes clearly results to environmental impacts because it is 120 metres away from the seashore, it’s close to communities and in the middle of plantations and this warrants groundWork and the community to suspect that there should be further investigation.
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 groundWork is an environmental justice organization working with community people from around South Africa and increasingly in Southern Africa on environmental justice and human rights issue focusing on Air Quality, Climate Justice and Energy, Waste and Environmental Health. groundWork is the South African member of Friends of the Earth International.