Waste company facing shut-down

2010-01-17 21:07

Johannesburg - The deadline looms for a waste company to appeal against an order to shut down its Krugersdorp, Johannesburg operations after it allegedly illegally dumped medical waste.

The Wasteman company had until mid-February to comply with a notice ordering the shutdown of work at its Krugersdorp incinerator, environment department spokesperson Albi Modise told Sapa on Sunday.

"They have until February 15th [to comply with the order]."

The company could lodge an appeal against the order before then.

"They have a right to do so. It would come before the minister."

The department had not as yet been informed if Wasteman would appeal.

The company, which boasts multi-million-rand contracts with more than 150 hospitals and clinics, was raided in connection with alleged illegal dumping.

Medical waste had been found at five different sites in Welkom in the Free State since December last year.

Waste included amputated limbs

Previously 20 tons of medical waste were found buried at an unused mine belonging to Harmony Gold outside Welkom.

Last December investigators from the environment affairs department - known as the Green Scorpions - raided a brick works where 300 tons of medical waste were discovered. Two illegal dumps were also found on a farm 20km outside Welkom and at the town's showgrounds.

The waste found included amputated legs, arms, placentas and foetuses. It also contained pharmaceutics such as expired tablets and medicines, and general medical waste including syringes, used medical gloves, blood-stained clothes and blood samples.

In November, Wasteman's chief executive Vincent Charnley temporarily quit as head of the Institute of Waste Management for Southern Africa. His company was suspended from the organisation.

The environment department said at the time Wasteman was being investigated for corruption and fraud. The maximum penalty for illegally dumping medical waste is R10m or 10 years imprisonment - or both.

On Sunday Modise said investigators continued to unravel the circumstances around the illegal dumping of raw waste in the Welkom area.

"Intensive investigations are unfolding to take the matter forward... Our investigators are out in Welkom. They are looking at the labels to see where the waste is coming from."

Modise said an update on the status of investigations and the possible pressing of criminal charges in connection with the dumping would be available mid-week.