EnviroServ could have its Shongweni Landfill waste management license revoked by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).
Shongweni Landfill. Picture: Shongweni report
The department recently released a notice of intention to suspend or revoke the waste management company’s license following a series of investigations which were undertaken by the Green Scorpions and the eThekwini Municipality in January this year. The investigation was opened after the DEA received a stream of complaints from nearby residents who complained about strong malodours coming from the landfill site. These complaints first started filtering through to the DEA early last year. “Enviroserv has four calendar days from receipt of the notification to make representations as to why the waste management license should not be suspended and/or revoked,” the DEA said in a statement.
Little relief despite EnviroServ’s interventions
EnviroServ implemented several interventions to comply with the instructions contained in the compliance notice that it received, but “there are still unacceptably high levels of landfill gases being emitted from the Shongweni landfill site,” the DEA said. The department has received many health and odour-related complaints over the past year. Initially, complaints were referred to local health authorities as, according to the department, at the time EnviroServ did not agree that the odours were a the main cause of health issues.
A compliance inspection was done onsite in May 2016 and by August, EnviroServ proposed remedial actions for immediate implementation in a letter to the DEA. The department looked it over and shortly after issued EnviroServ with a letter of instruction. This letter conveyed the departments’ suggested measures.
Based on this letter, EnviroServ responded with an 11-point action plan which indicated how it would implement remedial measures. It also included the extended suspension of the acceptance and disposal of the following:
- All Type 1 wastes
- A commitment to decant and dispose of all stored leachate and contaminated storm water, offsite
- To convene an urgent monitoring committee meeting
- Provide a detailed leachate and storm water management plan
- Undertake a toxicological study and technical assessment of the site
- Provide a detailed inventory of all waste streams accepted by the site
However, this plan was suspended by a pre-compliance and compliance notice (CN). These notices led to further onsite inspections conducted in August 2016. The department said that since the CN was issued, EnviroServ complied with certain instructions, but complying with timeframes (and a few of the other instructions) varied. A second variation request was received by the department, as well as a suspension request. The department said EnviroServ formally requested that certain instructions contained in the CN be suspended until the objection process is completed. “Both the suspension request and objection are currently being considered by the director general and minister, respectively,” the DEA said. During this time, the department said the Green Scorpions had been “taking administrative enforcement action” to fast track a resolution of the malodours.
EnviroServ’s landfill permit
The validity period of EnviroServ’s landfill permit is now being reviewed on a monthly basis instead of doing so annually, the DEA said. The Green Scorpions also initiated a criminal investigation in September 2016. The DEA said the findings showed that EnviroServ “failed to comply with the provisions of environmental law and certain conditions of the waste management licence which was issued in terms of the National Environmental Management Waste Act, 2008”. According to the department, the National Prosecuting Authority is currently in the process of reviewing the findings and will thereafter make a decision on whether or not to prosecute.