Table View Residents Association

Submission 4th February 2004.

Our aim; to motivate

"A NATIONAL AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT BILL"

Based on our constitutional right of a clean and healthy environment

Be passed through the channels of government without delay.

When you eat a healthy meal every day

It is difficult to know the hunger pains of the poor who cannot afford food.

When you live in an area that is not polluted by industrial fall out it is difficult to understand the misery of the people who are affected.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I request that for the next few moments imagine what it feels like when you have to battle for every breath while waiting for the effect of your asthma pump to take control.

Imagine sitting at the doctors office and he has just told you, you have leukaemia or that you have breast cancer.

All these health complaints can be caused by air pollution.

Can you imagine?

My name is Andy Birkinshaw; I am the Chairman of the Table View Residents Association.

Today the Table View Residents Association is representing all the communities neighbouring the Caltex refinery which is situated 17km from the centre of Cape Town in the north western suburbs.

These suburbs include; Milnerton, Phoenix, Joe Slovo, Table View, Parklands, Dunoon, Richwood, Bothasig, & Edgemead. There are also a number of informal settlements situated within these boundaries.

We are being abused; our health is negatively impacted by the toxic emissions from the refinery and other industries which release their chemical pollutants by the ton every single hour, seven days a week 365 days a year.

Members of our community are subjected to toxic gases, extreme noise and recently we have had to investigate gardens which have been destroyed by chemical fallout.

The affects and hidden costs of this toxic pollution to our communities and our nation are extremely high.

Because of illness time is taken off from school and work. Productivity of our nation is affected.

Doctorís fees and contributions to medical insurance increase every year, we battle on a local level to fund and run our health clinics and yet the industries which have a direct affect on our health are allowed to continue to profit and poison us because we donít have the correct legislation in place.

What a very sad mess when it is stated in our constitution that this situation must not exist!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These giants of our economy have no morals, it is a fact, and it has been recorded in our meetings with the refinery management that because they are within the limits of their permits they will continue exactly as they have in the past.

The recent International Study of Asthma & Allergies in Children (The Isaac report) shows without doubt that the Caltex refinery has a direct affect on the surrounding communities.

I quote from that report;

The study was conducted on the basis of the surrounding communitiesí concern that the petrochemical refinery had an impact on their health. The study has shown a measurable health effect, primarily more frequent asthmatic symptoms associated with estimated petrochemical emissions dose. This indicates a substantive basis for community concern, notwithstanding the relatively modest levels of ambient air pollution regularly measured in the area.

To keep within the International study guide lines over 3000 children aged between 11 and 14 years from 17 different schools were involved.

We know that these toxic emissions have a far greater affect on our very young children and on our senior citizens. If these sections of our community had been included the percentages would be much higher.

Our concerns are that this National Air Quality Management bill will be interpreted by industry as a licence to continue to pollute.

Focusing only on ambient air can create an opportunity for recording wrong or mis-leading information.

An example of this is our existing air monitoring stations situated over 2km from the refinery. The Isaac study shows that even fairly modest levels of emissions cause a measurable health affect and of course some of the time these emission levels are anything but modest.

A monitoring station could be sited up-wind and although the ambient air there is clean, down-stream of the offending industry the air is foul.

Is there a defined protocol of monitoring in this Bill?

Point of source monitoring combined with correct monitoring protocol, is the necessary first step to

Understanding what is needed for clean air.

You must be certain, honourable members that this Bill placed before you is going to achieve what our constitution guarantees.

In closing:

Time has run out for many of our people who have been affected by toxic emissions from hard-hearted industries.

Industries who are well aware of the negative health affects of their toxic emissions and yet have kept quite for all these years reaping the profits of production not caring that they have been sowing seeds of death into our communities.

Cancer, Leukaemia, Respiratory diseases and other health complications.

Toxic fall-out into our homes, gardens, rivers and fields.

We will never know the extent of this destruction.

You have the opportunity to bring change for our young and future generations.

If there is any doubt, then let us re-apply our minds and continue to work together to make sure that this Bill ensures that our children and their future generations will be able to breathe clean unpolluted air.