We’re no longer polluting your air.
That’s the word from controversial waste management company, Enviroserv, who insists that its Shongweni hazardous waste landfill site is no longer polluting the air in the Upper Highway area around Hillcrest.
Last week, Enviroserv took environmental watchdogs on a site inspection to their facilities and held a town hall meeting with interested stakeholders.
Also in attendance in the meeting were representatives from the eThekwini Municipality and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF).
Enviroserv came into infamy around 2016 when residents of Upper Highway and surrounding areas, in Durban, started complaining about a toxic smell in the air that was emanating from the Shongweni landfill site.
In 2020, after a long-drawn out court battle, Enviroserv entered into a plea agreement where they pleaded guilty for being responsible for the odour and agreed to pay a fine of R4,4 million. Last week Bongani Zondo, an Enviroserv technical officer, said during the presentations that the company has massively decreased their hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emissions.
“We have made big improvements — in our dropping of H2S emissions — and that is why the bad odour has dissipated. The site is where we want it to be,” he said.
In his presentation, Zondo pulled up a heat map taken from the air monitor readings in Winston Park.
“What this shows is that there are other sources of H2S that are emanating from other sources than Enviroserv. eThekwini also confirms the measured levels of H2S are too low to trigger heart related issues,” he said.
In a question and answer session some activists from the Shongweni Air Watch questioned the reliability of the data from the air monitoring device.
Esme Gombault, Enviroserv’s group technical director who was joining the meeting via Zoom, said the air monitoring device was commissioned by Enviroserv but eThekwini and DEFF officials had full access to it.
“Our monitors are calibrated by independent companies. We do not have the ability to calibrate the data. They can vouch for the credibility of the data,” she said.
Zondo said Enviroserv had cleared a third area for waste, as the two existing ones were close to capacity. The site receives 7 000 tonnes of toxic waste a month, down from a high of 25 000 around July 2016.
Lisa Gray, from Shongweni Air Watch, was one of those invited on the site inspection and she described it as “informative”. “The smell isn’t as bad as it was.”