Hazardous Waste Incinerator proposal for Sasolburg defeated by civil society groups

9 October 2002 - Local civil society groups are celebrating the news that the Free State government has disapproved the construction of a hazardous waste incinerator in Sasolburg.

The incinerator was proposed by a private company, Peacock Bay Environmental Services (PBES), approximately 18 months ago. PBES received funding from the USA Trade and Development Agency for the developmental phase of this project. If the incinerator had been approved it would have been the largest hazardous waste incinerator in Southern Africa.

The Sasolburg Environmental Committee (SEC) together with national NGO groundWork and other national and international civil society groups joined forces in a concerted and sustained effort to halt the proposed development. The local Sasolburg municipality also opposed the development. Reasons for opposing the facility were many including, that it would be a highly polluting facility and the air in Sasolburg is already heavily polluted. The local campaign against the incinerator was supported by the Global Anti -Incinerator Alliance (GAIA) who wrote to President Thabo Mbeki to ask him to intervene and scrap the proposal (see the letter here).

The Free State Department of Environmental, Tourism and Economic Affairs rejected this proposed development on October 2, 2002. Their decision was based on three factors:

"“We are happy for this response by government refusing permission to the development of a hazardous waste incinerator in Sasolburg. The people have been listened too, and this has set a precedent"”, said Nicholas Kasa, secretary of the SEC.

The rejection of such a proposal comes exactly one month after the South African government ratified the Stockholm Convention, which calls for the elimination of dioxins, which would have been one of the main by-products during the incineration of waste.

"“It is hoped that by this decision, the SA government is stating its intent to fulfil its obligations to protect the health of the people of South Africa and the world, and will consider halting other such proposals as the Mondi (Anglo American) incinerator in South Durban",” comments Manny Calonzo, Assistant Coordinator of GAIA, based in the Philippines.

Ardiel Soeker said he hopes that groundWork hopes that this rejection will send a clear message to American investors that South African does not approve of them pushing dirty technologies such as incineration in South Africa and the South generally.

groundWork wishes to acknowledge the legal and technical assistance we received from Patrick Pringle and his colleagues at the Legal Resources Center (Pretoria) in opposing this incinerator.

For more information:

Nicholas Kasa, Sasolburg Environmental Committee, 073 187 6393

Bobby Peek, groundWork, 082 464 1383, 033 342 5662

Manny Calonzo, GAIA, Manny Calonzo, manny.gaia@no-burn.org, 091 632 9290376