Rainbow water hazard row

2011-07-27 00:00

LAND owners relying on Malkopspruit, a tributary of the Mphusheni River, for their water, accuse Rainbow Chicken of causing a bad smell and a health hazard in their water source.

Residents yesterday met Rainbow management and the Water Affairs Department.

“We can’t live with the stench,” said Hannes de Bruyn, a resident and business owner in Lynnfield Park.

De Bruyn said he has found dead chickens near the river alongside water that is often stagnant and dirty. In the last three months the river has become “worse and worse”.

De Bruyn’s wife, Gill, said she followed the dirty water from their property to Rainbow Chicken’s hatchery 53 in Camperdown to make sure of its source.

Rainbow’s group human resource and corporate affairs director, Stephen Heath, said the company does not “dispose of any chicken waste into the river”, although it does use chicken effluent to irrigate its lawns.

Heath said about two years ago residents accused Rainbow of polluting the river with the effluent, but further investigation did not support this.

On Monday the matter was raised again. Heath acknowledged that “with the heavy rains and the rising water table, some of the effluent from the lawns has been running off and infiltrating the water in the river”. There was also a broken effluent pipe, which has been fixed.

Rainbow has stopped using effluent on its lawns with “immediate effect” Heath said.

He added that Rainbow is implementing an environmental assessment plan for a waste water solution and has sought advice on how to “remedy the soil and water in the stream”.

The Witness was asked by Rainbow management to leave the meeting so that it could continue. De Bruyn described the meeting as “heated”.

Landowner and chairperson of Lower Mphusheni Valley Conservancy Pandora Long said that “our voices have not been heard in 32 years” and described the water as “absolutely disgraceful”, filled with “pure waste water” and dead chickens. She has called for the immediate closure of the chicken plant until water quality tests are completed and Rainbow has “complied with legislation”.

A Water Affairs Department spokesperson, Linda Page, said the department’s employee at the meeting could not be contacted immediately.

The De Bruyns and Long point out that the river is their only source of water.

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