Release, Wednesday, 22 June 2000
Residents in the Merebank
community located directly opposite the Illovo Sugar have been complaining
repeatedly of serious air and noise pollution problems.
Serious odour complaints
have been reported. The description of odours are that of a sour,
yeasty, acidic smell. These smells are a daily occurrence together
with a dewy drizzle.
The following effects
have been associated with the air pollution:
1. Health effects: coughing, tightness in chest and burning eyes.
2. Household effects: a blackish yellow residue on furniture, curtains
Also reported is that
of noise emanating from the plant especially during the night causing
extreme disturbances. The following noises have been noted: steam
- loud engine sound, pump - gushing sound, hammer/drilling sound.
Since February 2000,
residents have attempted to lodge complaints through Illovo's toll-free
number (0800-330-400), only to find that the number was invalid.
Thereafter attempts to lodge complaints were made via the security
control room. However, responses to pollution complaints were never
received by the community.
On the 25th May 2000,
the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, in offering support
to the community, forwarded a letter to Mr Riddle, the general manager
of Illovo reporting our dismay on the disconnection of the toll-free
complaints number without notice to the community. We requested
that llovo Sugar provide us with information regarding the disconnection
of the toll-free line, the failure to report this to the community,
the inability of the control room to deal with pollution complaints
together with emission and noise reports and monitoring data. On
the 26th May 2000, we received a response from the factory manager,
Mr Sandy Turbaro, who confirmed that the toll-free number had been
changed to 0800-333-400 with notice to the community. However residents
disagree saying they were never informed of this. Mr Tubaro's response
to SDCEA's request for information on the emission releases and
noise pollution was that "no chemicals were used by the company".
Shocked at this statement, the SDCEA requested that Mr Turbaro put
this in writing to the SDCEA.
A follow up letter was
sent to Illovo Sugar, noting our dissatisfaction with the lack of
a proper response on the issue of noise and air pollution and our
alarmed reaction to Mr Tubaro's denial of any chemicals being used
on the plant.
We are disturbed by indifferent
manner in which Illovo Sugar handles serious pollution complaints
and the lack of transparency of a senior management official. It
is known that Illovo Sugar is emitting pollutants such as oxides
of sulphur, nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide and other pollutants.
Yellow the leaves of plants, dissolve marble, eat away iron, steel.
Affect breathing: high concentrations, irritates upper respiratory
tract at even lower concentrations when carried on particulates
it appears able to do still greater harm by injuring lung tissue.
Contact person: Michelle
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)
P.O. Box 211150 [c/o Gouritz Cresent/ Austerville Drive, Austerville]
Tel-fax: +27 31 461-1991