Sasolburg Air Quality Monitoring Committee getting serious about cleaning up the air we breathe.

24 March 2004 - The Sasolburg Air Quality Monitoring Committee (SAQMC) hosted environmental justice activists from the USA on 24 March 2004. The purpose of the visit was to give the USA activists an idea of what is happening around the environment and the impact of chemical industries on the people of Sasolburg.

This type of exchange is important for SAQMC to share our struggles and challenges. Sasol is not only polluting us in Sasolburg, but also the community of Mossville in the USA where they also own a chemical plant. We want industries to know that we are serious about cleaning up the air we are breathing. Through this exchange project we will strengthen our movement to stop industrial pollution in South Africa and in the USA.

Teresa Almaguer, one of the activists from the USA, said that it is simply inhumane for communities to live so close to these polluting industries. People have enough problems like unemployment, HIV/AIDS; they don’t need to be killed slowly in their own homes.

Sasol keeps blaming the community for the pollution and spend little effort on reducing their own pollution. If domestic burning was the main culprit then why is it in south Durban where they do not use coal stoves the cancer rates are still 6 times the national average with asthma rates at 50%?

The group visited the Cedar school in Zamdela, where they were informed of the environmental awareness programmes at the school. The principal at the school, Mr. Kompi, mentioned that many of the learners suffer from asthma, respiratory infections, eye infections, skin irritations, and as a result lose school days. The health problems experienced here are ignored because both government and industry fail to see the link to the pollution in Zamdela. Industry in Sasolburg must take responsibility for its health impacts on communities especially the most vulnerable, the children and the elderly.

At the Metsimaholo HIV/AIDS group, the high incidence of HIV/AIDS was discussed and shown how the heavy pollution worsens respiratory illnesses linked to HIV/AIDS, such as TB.

The group were also taken on a toxic tour of the chemical and other industries surrounding Zamdela including, Sasol, Dow, Karbochem, and Natref by Caroline Ntaopane and other members of the SAQMC

For more information please contact Caroline Ntaopane, secretary of SAQMC at 073-246-0081