BILL TO PROTECT HEALTH COULD RESULT IN THE INCINERATION OF HAZARDOUS WASTE

25 August 2004 - Today the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs will be discussing the amendments to the Air Quality Management Bill. groundWork is calling

The proposed amendments to the Bill are a result of civil society organisations requesting the Portfolio Committee in February 2004 to hold back the Bill and request the DEAT to amend the Bill. DEAT, however, without consultation has included additional clauses (26-28) on "controlled fuels". This section makes allowance for the incineration of hazardous waste.

Government does not have a policy on hazardous waste being used as fuels or a policy on the process of combusting. Since 2002 groundWork has repeatedly made written requests to DEAT to be involved in the debate to develop policy on the incineration of waste and tyres, as well as alternative fuels. To date there has been no response from government on this issue.

There is a strong body of scientific evidence indicating the negative impact on health due to waste incineration. The contamination from incinerators can release as many as 190 toxic chemicals into the air and is not restricted to a specific locality. The Metsimaholo (Sasolburg) Municipal Council and the Free State Provincial government vetoed a proposal to incinerate hazardous waste in Sasolburg.

Our concern must be understood in a positive light. While we agree with approach of government to regulate all fuels in the context of air quality, we cannot agree to the apparent inclusion of hazardous waste as this has taken place unilaterally and without any form of consultation. If we have misunderstood the situation and government intends to engage in a proper consultation process around the use of hazardous and other waste as fuel, we would welcome a categorical statement to this effect from government that would set out a process to be followed and provide appropriate opportunity for the participation of all stakeholders.

We thus, call on government to:
1. Exclude section 26-28 until a policy is defined on this issue;
2. Specifically state that hazardous waste from industrial process is clearly omitted; or
3. That "substances" is further defined in section 1 (1) to exclude hazardous waste and tyres from industrial processes.

See Final Submission to Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs here.

For further information please contact Bobby Peek at 082-464-1383;
033-342-5662


Ferrial Adam
Research, Media and Corporate Accountability
groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa
P.O. Box 2375, Pietermaritzburg, 3200, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 33 342 5662
Fax: +27 (0) 33 342 5665
Cell: +27 (0) 84 484 3387
E-mail: ferrial@groundwork.org.za or team@groundwork.org.za