South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
8 August 2003

 The SDCEA has just reported a 3-hour long flaring incident to both Engen and City Health. The flare was apparently due to a brief power dip at the plant. The smell of the fumes were very strong and many residents along Badulla Rd and Ballerina Terrace reported having severe sinus headaches and feelings of nausea. To allow citizens to experience such abuse to their status of health is unacceptable.

We have just experienced several flaring incidents from Engen over the past 2 months and there appears to be a range of reasons why there is flaring. Simply reporting the incident to City Health does not make the problem go away - people are still experiencing the ill-effects of toxic emissions. Surely something must be done to ensure that the recovery time after a power dip is minimised and that the number of flaring incidents is reduced to a certain number per year - after which defaulting companies MUST be fined for every incident.

Engen informed us that it is standard practise that they flare up to four times a year, i.e. during routine maintenance, shut down and restart. The fifteen reported incidents of heavy flaring over the past year are well over 3.5 X their normal practise. Does City Health not have the authority and responsibility to fine defaulting companies after a series of warnings?

And what about the severe impacts on people's health? One need only stand anywhere in Wentworth, Treasure Beach or Merebank for an hour in the day to feel the horrid impacts of the air emitted from the refinery. There are a ¼ of a million people residing and working in south Durban, all of whom are impacted on in some way or another by polluting industries. The cost of pollution impacting on the quality of productive people's lives in south Durban impacts directly on our economy.

Furthermore, Engen does not find it important for people to log their complaints - they are simply told that the matter will be seen to and that a 3-hour flare does not warrant being referred to as an incident. On the contrary, people who's lives are impacted upon surely have a right to complain and receive a complaints number as soon as they call in, as well as, have the right to request that that whatever's impacting on their quality of health needs to be thoroughly investigated. People's basic constitutional right to a healthy and clean environment is being violated by Engen.

We urge City Health to investigate the matter thoroughly and that defaulting parties are held accountable and fined by the responsible authorities.



Avena Bhikha
Project Co-ordinator
Desmond D'Sa

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
P.O. Box 211150
Bluff, 4036
South Africa
Tel: +27 31 461 1991
Fax: +27 31 468 1257