Press Release: 5 October
The Settler's Primary school
located in a "Critical Impact Zone" surrounded by two petro-chemical refineries
(Engen and Sapref), Mondi Paper Mill, Southern Sewage Works and also lying
in proximity to the Navy/Mobeni and Jacobs Industrial Belts.
The children and educators
at Settler's Primary School bear the brunt of the emission releases with
daily complaints of stomach cramps, coughing, difficulty in breathing,
wheezing, headaches and other symptoms which affect not only their health
but their education and athletic abilities (impeded by respiratory problems).
As a result this led the Settlers
Primary School to a process of engagement with industry, authority and
community-based organisations to obtain immediate resolution to the reported
health effects on the children. However, no immediate measures have been
undertaken to protect the health of the affected children and the toxic
emissions continue unabated.
Most Recent Incidents
These recorded incidents were the most severe of the impacts, notwithstanding
that exposure to toxic emissions are ongoing:
1. A power-failure at the Merewent sub-station on the 29th May 2000, led
to the shut-down of the refineries which in turn resulted in the flaring
of toxic emissions. Children at the school were adversely affected with
complaints of nausea, headaches, stomach cramps, etc. (see "complaints
2. Two week period from 19th July 2000 to 31st July serious emission that
disrupted learning and teaching processes.
3. Two week period from the 1st to 14th August 2000, unbearable nausea
that resulting in many learners and teachers vomiting together with headaches,
tight chests, dizzy spells, burning sensationon the nose/eyes. Noting
that on the 7th August large puffs of smoke in the atmosphere.
4. 25th August 2000 at 10h18 and persisting for more than an hour. Four
teacher in the school lost their voices as a result of a severe rotten
egg, pungent odour, also affecting learners. Activity at the school has
been severely disrupted.
5. 13th September 2000 from 07h30, rotten egg odour (hydrogen sulphide)
resulting in tests being disrupted due to ill-health.
6. Wednesday, 4th October 2000, Settlers Primary School documented its
worst impacts with severe emissions of pungent, acrid odours which resulted
in educators and children being seriously ill with bouts of vomiting,
nausea, headaches, etc.
Polluting industries have and
continue to externalise their pollution onto the surrounding communities
who can least afford to bear such costs. The direct costs being health
and environmental and the indirect cost being education. The inability
of children to concentrate due to health effects and the general ill-health,
has and is setting back learning processes.
Learners at the Settler's Primary
School are seriously disadvantaged educationally and athletically and
are undermined and abused by the surrounding polluting industries, who
have been allowed by authorities to flagrantly violate people's constitutional
and human rights.
To date not a single industry
has been penalised by the authorities and forced to control their down
drafting. Industry must be held accountable and take responsibility for
all externalities that impact on the health, environment and lives of
people. It is imperative that urgent action be taken to ensure that cleaner
technology is enforced in South Durban with the aim of protecting people's
constitutional and human rights.
The children of Settlers Primary
School are but many of the countless victims of industrial pollution.
However, as a "Critical Impact Zone" and the added effects of disruption
to education and learning processes calls for critical government intervention.
Michelle Simon on 461-1991 or 083-520-7078
Lawrence Vartharajulu (Settlers Primary School)