News ID: 255576
Published: 1120 GMT July 10, 2019

S. African residents take steel company to SAHRC for 'polluting our air'

S. African residents take steel company to SAHRC for 'polluting our air'

Residents of Kuils River in Western Cape, who insist that nearby steel company has been polluting their air, have taken their complaints to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

“Our plight has reached a point where this has become a human rights issue and the company is polluting our air,” said Earl Polman, a community leader, reported.

Homeowners have drawn up a petition and initially dragged the steel company, Cisco, to court for violating noise pollution regulations.

Polman said they did everything in their power to get the city council to act over Cisco, with no results.

“We have heard nothing from the City and there has been no commitment from the City on this issue.

“We are very frustrated,” he said.

Cisco was established in the 1960s and operated until 2010. During the company’s shutdown period, housing developments began in Kuils River in areas such as Vredelust, Jagtershof, St. Dumas, Highbury and Silver Oaks.

According to residents, when they purchased their homes they were under the impression the factory would no longer be operating.

However, in October 2012, the industrial plant was purchased by DHT Holdings, which continued trading as Cisco.

DHT Holding invested R550 million to upgrade the plant with the hope of creating more than 300 jobs in the coming years. The Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa through the Department of Trade and Industry invested an additional R230 million.

In January last year, the council told residents that after measuring the noise limits, a legal notice was served on Cisco to reduce the noise and a docket for prosecution was lodged for contravening the Western Cape Noise Control Regulations. The matter was heard in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court on March 6 and April 3 (last year). Both cases were appealed by Cisco.

Residents are calling for the company to be deemed as a noxious trader — a company that is disreputable because it caused a great deal of pollution. SAHRC provincial commissioner Chris Nissen confirmed a complaint was received.

“The complaint is being handled by our legal advisers. We have also raised this issue with the City and have written to them about this,” he said.

Mayoral Committee member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said, “The city’s Air Quality Management Unit has engaged with the National Department of Environmental Affairs’ Compliance and Enforcement Unit and jointly conducted an unannounced compliance inspection of Cisco on June 12 this year. The City is awaiting the independent findings of their investigation,” said Badroodien.

The City, he said, would liaise with the ministries of trade and investment; and environmental affairs to seek a meeting to discuss the Cisco matter, with a view to finding sustainable solutions.

Cisco said, “Cisco is in possession of a Provisional Atmospheric Emission Licence to minimize the impact of emissions from the operations, the plant has employed various preventative and corrective actions which are communicated to and approved by the authorities and audited (by) licensing officials.

“The plant has four permitted stacks, one for the combustion unit and three for Meltshop operation.

Due to the combustion of high/low sulphur oil, smoke is occasionally generated during plant startup as well as during equipment installation and/or repairs.”



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