South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
1 October 2002
Mass meeting held against Mondi

The Austerville Civic Centre was packed to capacity last night with residents from several South Durban communities who unanimously rejected Mondi’s proposed incinerator. 

The communities were shocked when Mondi General Manager John Barton started talking about running the Comrades Marathon instead of answering scientific questions about pollution.  

Barton also failed to disclose how many jobs would be created by the planned incinerator, and whether these would be permanent or casual. 

Barton was asked why he did not build a gas fired incinerator, which would cause far less pollution but initially cost Mondi more money. His response was that South Durban communities were selfish, that gas has to be produced from coal in Secunda where communities there would be affected. This is total nonsense. The gas pipeline from Mozambique is a fait accompli. The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, through the Pietermaritzburg based NGO Groundwork and OilWatch Africa, has been working very closely with Mozambican communities to make absolutely sure that the gas pipeline poses no adverse consequences for the environment or the community in Mozambique. 

SDCEA also meets with the poor communities of Secunda on a regular basis to work on joint campaigns targeting dirty, polluting industries.  

Barton also denied that plans for the incinerator were scuppered in 1998 when representatives of communities persuaded the World Bank to withdraw funding for the project. Barton refused to disclose who has since decided to fund the construction of the incinerator. 

The communities of South Durban have received overwhelming international support against the incinerator from the Philippines, New York Cancer Action, Greenpeace, Communities Against Toxics (CATS) a coalition of the long suffering communities of Great Britain and Ireland living with incinerators and the Taiwan Watch Institute. 

Herlin Hsieh of Taiwan Watch Institute said the organization was shocked that Mondi wants to build the type of incinerator which is identified as the major source of dioxins by the Stockholm Convention.  “The Stockholm Convention calls for the reduction and finally elimination of the unintentionally produced toxics. Under this condition, the constuction of any new incinerator will violate the principle of the convention,” said Hsieh. 

John Barton refused to sign the memorandum which communities drew up so communities have decided to embark on mass action against the incinerator.  

The communities were angered that laboratory reports about heavy metals and violent poisons such as arsenic, cyanide, lead and mercury which will be burnt as part of the waste sludge have been glossed over by Mondi.

Communities said that “Mondi has a long history of abusing the poor. South Durban communities stopped Mondi’s proposed hazardous ash landfill site on Merebank, only to find that Mondi dumped the site on an even poorer community in Umlazi. We will not accept, that now that you have tired of abusing the poor of Umlazi and now that your unsustainable, badly planned landfill site is full, that you wish to burn the waste and release it back into the air of those communities who are totally against this.”

“We note that incinerators are so dangerous and undesirable that in 1999, World Bank President James Wolfenson donated US $50 000 to stop an incinerator being built next to his holiday house,” said communities.


For comment call Desmond D’Sa, SDCEA Chairperson on 083 9826939 or 031 4611991.