Durban dust-up: Family trusts sue local factory for R9m in damages

2017-09-05 13:48
The large warehouse in Prospecton, an industrial area outside Durban CBD. (Supplied)

The large warehouse in Prospecton, an industrial area outside Durban CBD. (Supplied)

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Durban - The large warehouse in Prospecton, an industrial area outside of Durban's CBD, appears old and rusting.

In fact, it was built a mere five years ago. Its condition, its owners say, is due to continuous wafts of black ferrous dust from a neighbouring crushing plant which is chasing away prospective tenants and, possibly, impacting on the health of workers there.

Now the owners - three family trusts - are suing The New Reclamation Group for R9m in damages, and asking a high court judge to grant an interdict to stop any future "dust nuisance".

They have also cited the eThekwini Municipality and the MEC for environmental affairs in the court action, seeking an order that they intervene and enforce compliance with environmental legislation.

According to its owners, the 5-year-old warehouse has become a potential health hazard due to continuous wafts of black ferrous dust from a neighbouring crushing plant. (Supplied)

One of the owners, Shaukat Moosa, told News24 that he had tried to resolve the issue out of court.

"We said, let's get experts in and find a way to abate this… They said they were getting in some machinery to absorb the dust, but nothing changed.

"We now have no alternative but to issue the summons and get the City and the department involved to do a full investigation," he said.

He said that crushing carried on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We had tenants - a stationery company - who left because their stock was being messed up. The dust settles everywhere.

'Even the inside of the pipes are rusty'

"If you look at the building, it looks 30 years old. It looks rusty, and even the inside of the pipes are rusty.

"The dust that comes from there has got ferrous iron in it. When it comes into contact with steel, it makes rust," Moosa said.

He said their expert, Andrew Simpson, had done tests and had reported that the iron content significantly exceeded the dustfall standard set out in the applicable legislation.

Moosa said he had recently lost a tenant who wanted to use the warehouse for cold storage.

"They [the workers at the crushing plant] wear masks. I don't know what the health effect is on us, or on people living nearby in Merebank and Merewent."

According to the summons, a meeting was held on site in November 2014 where, it is alleged, the company acknowledged that an estimated 10% of the end product of the recycling process constituted dust.

The damages sought are to fix up the warehouse, to compensate for loss of rental income, and for damages to stored stock.

The company did not respond to a repeated request for comment.

Read more on:    durban  |  environment  |  courts

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