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Committee formed to address health problems related to dangerous gas leak

According to records at SDCEA, in 2019, a leakage allegedly from the same company, caused hundreds of people to become seriously ill.

RESIDENTS who still suffer symptoms linked to a gas leak from a company in the Wentworth area last month, are left waiting for feedback as to whether or not the company allegedly responsible will fit their medical bills.
A committee was formed by residents and a survey was conducted to gage the severity of the persisting symptoms residents suffer from since the leak in January.

Results from tests facilitated by the South Durban Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) and conducted at ChemTech Lab in Pretoria, confirmed that residents have been inhaling components of dowtherm chemical, such as diphenyl oxide, biphenyl, benzene and toluene, which allegedly leaked from a company situated in close proximity to the Hime Street flats, over a period of time during January.

ALSO READ: SDCEA appalled by city’s disaster readiness

While some residents battled to breathe, others reported symptoms including skin and eye irritation, as well as a sore throat, nausea and headaches. Air quality officer for SDCEA, Bongani Mthembu, said the environmental alliance has been monitoring the situation closely.

“The committee tasked to assist residents who still displayed symptoms, will push for the company to commit to paying for the medical check-ups for the affected residents.

“We have been liaising with experts from the UKZN Medical School and a survey was done and provided to the medical department at UKZN. We are waiting for a report back. The company allegedly responsible needs to commit to pay for the check-ups of affected residents.

“The response from the survey will be taken to the committee and the committee will present to the company the findings and the way forward will be discussed. The findings will include the further tests required to be done on residents who were affected, which will be handed to the company to follow through with,” Mthembu said.

According to records at SDCEA, in 2019, a leakage allegedly from the same company, caused hundreds of people to become seriously ill. The type of chemical that leaks settles on garments, curtains, sofas, and other surfaces, where it remains.

“Residents and the environmental alliance, together with role-players, managed to ensure that the company and government provided a 24-hour clinic so that people could seek medical assistance at any time. We keep forcing companies to be accountable. The health of residents in this area is already fragile due to them living in a chemical zone, just above the Jacobs area. We have been putting pressure on officials to oversee these industries, but they are reluctant to force and act as officials. Something needs to be done before it happens again,” Mthembu added.

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