The Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) has asked national government to intervene in the matter around the New England landfill site fire emitting hazardous smoke.
EDTEA MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said on Friday that everything was being done to put out the fire. “We have already received support from the national government Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries’ Working on Fire Programme,” she said.
“We will continue to mobilise more resources from the national government in order to protect the people of Msunduzi during this period.”
Dube-Ncube, who was receiving regular reports from the team of firefighters and experts working on the landfill fire, said extinguishing the blaze had become a priority for provincial government.
“We have a constitutional obligation to ensure that we protect our citizens. Section 24 of the South African Constitution clearly states that everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution,” Dube-Ncube said.
The provincial cabinet will soon meet to discuss the issue of the New England landfill site.
“We will be presenting before the executive council a comprehensive compliance audit report from the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Units, and Pollution and Waste Management Units of the Department of Environmental Affairs,” she said.
Meanwhile, air pollution experts have warned that the smoke from the landfill site could be more hazardous than what people initially thought.
Bongani Mthembu, an air pollution and health expert attached to the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said it was highly likely that chemicals and other dangerous waste was being dumped on the site. “The trend we have been seeing around KZN and the entire country is that companies producing hazardous waste often dump their waste in landfills such as the one in New England Road to avoid the massive costs associated with the disposal of hazardous waste,” he said.