PRESS RELEASE

Government Denies Hillside Permission to Pollute!

February 03, 2005 - In a unprecedented move, the Director: Air Quality Management, in the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) has refused Hillside Aluminium permission to by pass the pollution abatement equipment and pollute the neighbourhood of Richards Bay. This was after the DEAT granted permission for a similar process in October 2004 [1].

Hillside informed the DEAT that they would have had to have a “fume bypass” on 2 February 2005, however after local environmental organisations Vuka Environment Dot Com, groundWork and local residents raised concern about this unjust environmental practice, the DEAT responded positively by withholding the permission to allow the by-pass.

Despite DEAT refusing permission to allow this by-pass, the Hillside Air Pollution Prevention (APPA) Permit that was granted by DEAT does give Hillside permission to undertake this practice. Edmund Skosana, Director of Vuka Environment Dot Com, is cautious and states that: “While I welcome the DEAT actions, it is of concern that Hillside might still ignore the DEAT considering their permit gives them permission to do this”.

Sandy Camminga, of the Richards Bay Ratepayers Association, stated it was unacceptable that “during the Environmental Impact Assessment for the development of Hillside, the company and government did not make known that this practice would occur.”

groundWork has worked with community groupings from around the country to lobby and challenge government for a change in legislation [2] that will not allow these practices to occur. “The old schedule trade APPA permitting system operated by DEAT was clearly a license to pollute” indicates Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork and furthermore, “these incidents of allowing industry to pollute with disregard for community health is one of the main reasons as to why President Thabo Mbeki must sign the proposed National Environmental Management: Air Quality Bill urgently”.

Considering the fact that Hillside has permission from the APPA permit to undertake a fume by-pass, and has been refused permission to do so, there will have to be full discussion with all stakeholders and government in the near future to understand how government will deal with this issue until a new permit is developed under the proposed new legislation.

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For more information:

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

Edmund Skosana, Vuka Environment Dot Com, 0823577870

Sandy Camminga, Richards Bay Ratepayers Association 0835152384

[1] See Press Release here.

[2] See Press Release here.