Reply by Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs B Sonjica on questions posed in the National Assembly for written reply
10 Jul 2009
Question No 498
Mr G R Krumbock Democratic Alliance (DA) to ask the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs:
(1) Whether the Environmental Management Inspectorate has investigated the emissions from any factories in St Helena Bay; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) Whether her department issued any directives against transgressors of air quality standards in St Helena Bay; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(3) Whether any investigations have been conducted to ascertain the link between local cases of cancer and air quality; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(4) Whether her department provides any support on air quality management to the local municipality; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs answers:
(1) The Chief Directorate: Air Quality Management and Climate Change in collaboration with the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning have instituted a review of the registration certificates of all fish meal plants in the Western Cape. This project was prompted by the large number of complaints received by local, provincial and national government structures.
The project involved an inspection of every facility, followed by the industries submitting a revised registration certificate application form. The objective of this project was to review and amend the registration certificates for the fish meal sector in such a way as to ensure the building of initial air quality management capacity in provinces and affected local authorities, as well as ensuring measurable air quality improvements during, and immediately following, the period of transition between Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act (APPA) and Air Quality Act (AQA).
Currently the Sub-directorate: Criminal Investigations within the Directorate: Enforcement (Environmental Management Inspectorate) has conducted a criminal investigation into complaints received from members of the community in the Saldanha Bay and St Helena Bay areas. Two criminal cases have been registered with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the matter is currently being finalised in order to present the evidence in the cases to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision on whether or not to prosecute.
(2) Based on complaints received and initial findings from the APPA registration certificate review process a decision was made to hand the matter over to the Chief Directorate: Regulatory Services, for compliance and enforcement action. The companies that were handed over for further investigation were located in St Helena Bay and Laaiplak. As stated above a criminal investigation is in the process of being finalised, based on the non-compliance with odour provisions as there are no set legally enforceable air quality standards for this sector.
(3) Based on our current understanding the fish meal plants are creating an odour nuisance based on the fact that they are processing decaying fish. To our knowledge, none of the compounds emitted into the atmosphere, which create the odour nuisance, are known human carcinogens. To fully understand any perceived health related impact a comprehensive epidemiological study must be undertaken.
(4) The department has provided support and training to the West Coast District Municipality over the past three years in preparation for the transition from the old Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act to the new National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act. The training has ranged from general air quality management principles to detailed training on atmospheric licensing, compliance monitoring and enforcement. The department, in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, have accompanied the district and local municipality officials on the site visits and inspections and they have been an integral part of the registration certificate review team.
Issued by: Department of Water and Environmental Affairs
10 July 2009
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
10 Jul 2009
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