Community living in fear after warehouse caught fire
Monday 26 August 2019 - 7:43am
DURBAN - A fire at Metallica Chemicals in Cato Ridge is causing panic.
The fire broke out in a warehouse allegedly used to store mercury chloride. The smoke plume from the facility is believed to be a serious health risk to those in and around the area. Smoke emitted from the factory poses a health risk, as the neurotoxin released can cause numerous symptoms including blurred vision, headaches, memory loss, brain damage and in extreme cases, death.
The local ward councillor, Musa Mkhize, believes foul play was involved. "Somebody broke in for whatever, or to interrupt the investigation that is happening because we believe that what is happening here is illegal, we also believe that this thing is kept here illegally."
Earlier this month Metallica Chemicals, formerly known as Thor chemicals, came under the spotlight for missing its 2013 projected deadline to remove the toxic mercury waste.
Metallica Chemicals has declined to comment but says it will release a statement in the coming days.
Thor chemicals must clean up the mess: Creecy
Friday 9 August 2019 - 7:30pm
CATO RIDGE - Environmental Affairs Minister Barbara Creecy has described the failure to clear more than 3,000 tons of mercury waste in KwaZulu-Natal as scandalous.
It has been more than two decades since British chemical giant, Thor chemicals left behind the deadly chemical. The last deadline to clear the toxic waste was in 2013, but there's been no progress. After eNCA's expose last week, Creecy visited the plant on Friday.
"This is a scandal and gross irresponsibility on the party of Thor chemicals," Creecy said. "This problem has existed for more than twenty years and we are currently faced with a new challenge where they have been a serious of new break-ins here and some of this very toxic matter has been stolen." "We are expecting within a month to get a clear report on whether or not they can process this toxic material and then Thor is going to have to remove it and send it for processing."
Community leaders are concerned about the continued environmental and health impact in the area. Some former employees are sick and others have died due to exposure to the chemical. "It has affected our fathers, brothers and uncles in the area," said ward councillor Musa Mkhize "We are not sure if they were compensated properly the way it's supposed to be. So, we asked the minister to investigate further to establish a commission to make sure that we look after this problem that happened and that area is more secured."
It's estimated that it will cost more than R300-million to treat the waste before it can be safely disposed. Government says Thor must foot the bill for the mess it left behind.