29 March 2004 - The environmental justice exchange, organised by groundWork, continued today in Richards Bay. The five USA activists were taken on a ‘toxic tour’ of Richards bay, which included stops outside some of the major industries in the area – Ticor, Mondi Paper, Foskor, Hillside Aluminium, and Richards Bay Minerals. The tour was organised by the local environmental organisation Vuka Environment Dot Com.

Richards Bay is fast becoming one of the leading industrial towns of South Africa. Industrial development has occurred at a quick pace, and communities have raised concern that often the EIA processes in the area are inadequate. The USA activists mentioned that similar processes to EIAs in the USA are often used by industry to confuse and misinform communities. People are expected to be involved without sufficient information and very short deadlines. EIA processes were meant to empower people to have a greater say in development, but it is quick becoming a hindrance to communities and their welfare.

During meetings with people who live in Richards Bay, there were reports of respiratory illnesses, rashes, and gas leaks that go unchecked by government and the local municipality. The group also met with the Richards Bay Clean Air Association who is involved in monitoring of air in Richards Bay.

Industries in Richards Bay include the paper mill industry spearheaded by Mondi, Richards Bay Coal, India Ocean Fertilizers that manufactures and exports fertilizers, and the Aluminium Smelting industry, which is one of the leading producers of aluminium in the world.

For more information please contact Ardiel Soeker 082-940 8669.