BLOEMFONTEIN – Enviroserv’s medical waste incinerator in Bloemfontein stands quiet and abandoned.
It’s been closed for months ago due to financial constraints.
In 2013, it was reportedly billowing masses of black smoke into the air.
Locals claim they were suffering from sinusitis, swollen glands and burning eyes and so approached the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
The commission has found that Enviroserv had been using a medical waste incinerator that didn’t comply with regulations.
“We came to the conclusion that the complainant’s right to a clean environment had been violated,” said Buang Jones of the SAHRC.
“We therefore requested the municipality, in compliance with our recommendations, to review their licence and to attach conditions, compliant with the legal framework in respect of environmental and waste disposal issues,” said Jones.
Even though Enviroserv had stopped using the incinerator before this ruling, environmental activists have hailed it as a significant victory.
“It means that communities that are really impacted by dirty big industries such as Eskom in the Highveld, Sasol in Sasolburg – it gives the SAHRC a mandate to go to those communities and to really document how they are experiencing pollution and how it impacts on their health,” said Rico Euripidou, of Groundwork SA.
The Mangaung municipality says it will re-evaluate Enviroserv’s operating licence if the company wants to restart its incinerators.
“They will have to communicate with our specialists, so that there is adherence to the atmospheric emissions licence, and then we’ll review and look at the locations, so that we don’t put our citizens in dangerous situations,” Qondile Khedama, Mangaung municipality spokesperson.
Enviroserv plans to appeal the ruling because the commission’s report concedes it’s highly unlikely the health symptoms can be definitively linked to the incinerator.
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