KZN waste sent to Welkom?

2009-12-04 00:00

POSSIBLE links are being probed between this week’s shocking discovery of buried medical waste at two sites in the Welkom area and last week’s raid by the Green Scorpions on three Wasteman Group sites — including one near Durban — and the premises of Maximus Bricks in Welkom Industria.

In a statement this week, the Environmental Affairs and Tourism Department said Friday’s search of Maximus Bricks revealed that “hundreds of tons of waste” have been taken from Wasteman’s facilities in Durban and Klerksdorp to be illegally buried, instead of being treated and disposed of properly.

It said that last week’s raids of Wasteman’s head office in Johannesburg, its incinerator at Klerksdorp, its treatment facility in Pinetown and the Maximus Bricks premises uncovered “serious contraventions of a number of provisions of the National Environment Management: Waste Act”.

On Wednesday, raids by the Environmental Management Inspectorate (commonly known as the Green Scorpions) revealed further “significant” dumping at the Welkom Showgrounds and a farm 25 km outside of Welkom.

“We are currently investigating possible links between the raid on Friday and [Wednesday’s] raid,” said the statement.

The department’s chief director of regulatory services, Sonnyboy Bapela yesterday declined to elaborate on the details of Wasteman’s alleged “non-compliances”, saying investigations are under way, but he repeated the department’s earlier contention that allegations of fraud and corruption are also being investigated.

David Marock, a consultant appointed three months ago by Wasteman to assist the group in meeting its safety, health and environmental compliance requirements, told The Witness that in his view the Wasteman process site in Pinetown is “100% legally compliant”.

“There are no problems at KZN sites,” he said.

“Whether Wasteman was involved in transporting waste up to the Free State is under investigation and I will be part of that investigation. We view it very seriously … but there are no irregularities at our sites,” said Marock.

However, in response to questions, the department’s spokesman, Albi Modise, said the Pinetown facility was recently investigated after a tip-off and several “non-compliances” were found there. He did not elaborate on his statement.

Numerous attempts to reach the attorney representing the Wasteman Group for comment yesterday were in vain.

According to the department, the group serves a number of hospitals in South Africa, including private hospital groups in five provinces. It is responsible for managing and disposing of waste.

The department said the raids come just days after the release of the National Compliance and Enforcement Report 2008/09, which revealed that “during the 2008/09 reporting year, a total of 2 412 environmental criminal dockets were registered compared with 1 762 in 2007/08”.

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