NO Incineration in South Africa

I have been made aware through groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa, that the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism will be deliberating the National Environmental Management: Waste Management Bill.

I congratulate the South African government for taking this step in the right direction to ensure that South African citizens have a right to 'an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being'. We believe, however, that for so long as incineration is contemplated in the Bill, the government will be falling short on this constitutional commitment.

Incineration has been implicated around the world as having a negative effect on the health of those who live and work nearby. In South Africa, we have the sad legacy of Thor Chemicals which burned hazardous waste. As a result of the toxins released in this process, three workers died and more than forty more were injured. Other incinerators have been closed down because they have violated government standards. Community people and NGOs have mobilised against proposals for new projects, sometimes successfully, while others have been allowed to bum, to the detriment of these communities. groundWork performed research in 2006 that found evidence of dioxins adjacent to a medical waste incinerator in KwaZulu-Natal. The results of this research were given to the relevant authorities, but nothing has been done about it.

At present the cement industry is pushing to bum waste as fuel in their plants across South Africa, but the Stockholm Convention, to which South Africa is a signatory, has raised this as a concern because such processes have the potential to release toxic chemicals.
I do not believe that a waste act that allows incineration can properly protect the health of South Africans, and ask you to explicitly prohibit the incineration of any and all waste in the National Environmental Management: Waste Management Bill.

Yours faithfully


Debra Broughton

Country: Netherlands