Pretoria — The Department of Water and Sanitation has welcomed the sentence against Bosveld Phosphate (PTY) Ltd in relation to environmental degradation and water offences.
The plant produces phosphoric acid, which is used in fertiliser.
These charges relate to unlawfully and intentionally or negligently causing a situation in December 2013 which led to water containing polluted substances being released into the Selati River which forms one of the tributaries of the Olifants River.
The Olifants River eventually flows through the Kruger National Park which is one of South Africa’s biggest drawcards for tourism.
The waste water that was released had the potential to cause serious damage, not only to the immediate environment, but also to water resources of Mozambique.
The company which pleaded guilty to violating sections of the National Water Act and the National Environmental Management Act was fined to the tune of R1,1 million was suspended while R1450 fine is payable within 14 days.
Head of the Blue Scorpions, an enforcement unit at department of Water and Sanitation, Nigel Adams, described the fine as a victory for the environment and tourism.
He hoped that the hefty fine would serve as a deterrent to potential offenders.
Adams said the Blue Scorpions would continue to raid industries that polluted South Africa’s rivers with impunity.
In the past year alone the unit had raided no fewer than 20 offending companies and local governments and served them with directives (notices) to stop their illegal activities.
These ranged from farmers to mines and abattoirs. Repeat offenders have been charged and fined by the courts, Adams said.
Association for Water and Rural Development ‘s Sharon Pollard said the mines and associated industries cannot cope with the amount of effluent they produce and this represented an ongoing source of risk to the people and natural resources in the catchment.
“Our research into the resilience of the Limpopo River Basin and the Olifants Catchment in particular indicates that there have been spills every year for a long time, not just from Bosveld.
“At the end of the day the mines and associated industries can’t cope with the amount of effluent they produce and this represents an ongoing source of risk to the people and natural resources in the catchment.”