South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
Workers Hospitalised due to gas leak in Isipingo

Press Release

Embargo: Monday morning, 26 June 2000

On Wednesday, 21 June 2000, at 20:30 hrs more than 30 workers were hospitalised at the Kingsway Hospital. They were treated for breathing difficulties, coughing, dry throats, burning eyes due to a gas leak that saturated the Republican Press Plant. The source of the gas leak was not identified. It is alleged that the leak was prevalent in the area throughout the week since Monday, affecting residents as well as workers.

The seriousness of the leak was brought to reality when three people that were evacuated from the plant, collapsed outside after being further exposed to the gas.

The local authorities in the area, the South Council Department of Health, investigated the source of the gas leak. A further investigation was undertaken by the Fire Department on the night of the incident that led to people being hospitalised, and neither the health department nor the Fire Department were able to identify the gas leak.

The local community in Isipingo have also being seriously affected by the gas emissions.

This recent gas incident follows closely on the heels of the chlorine leak at Polifin. "This recent incident again highlights the government's inability to track down and deal with the polluters in South Durban," states Michelle Simon, the SDCEA co-ordinator.

"Further development in the South Durban area will be inhibited by such poor environmental governance and enforcement by the responsible authorities and their inability to bring the culprits to book," highlights SDCEA.

The SDCEA is investigating the cause of the incident and will seek action from government.

END.

Contact persons: Michelle Simon and Bobby Peek