Q&A

The odour is caused hydrogen sulfide (H2S) generated by sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) that have become active in the site.

We are confident that by the end of August, our numerous interventions will have brought the odour under control. This means there should be no odour prevalent in the community emanating from the Shongweni Landfill.

No. Nothing is ever burnt at the landfill. Pictures of what looks like smoke arising from the face of the landfill is in fact ash which is being disposed of.

No. We do not dispose of any imported waste at Shongweni. Our trucks which are seen coming from the harbour are collecting general and industrial waste from the ships.

We do not dispose of any untreated medical waste, only treated medical waste which has been processed through an incinerator or autoclave process.

Some of the waste disposed of at Shongweni is classed as hazardous, not toxic. This is an important distinction. To comply with the transport regulations however, our trucks bear the word ‘toxic’ on them.

The toxicology report is a community health risk assessment to determine the potential/possible impact of emissions from the Shongweni Landfill Site on the health and well-being of the community. The technical review included the following:

1. Impacts of current co-disposal ratio

2. Hydraulic loading capacity

3. Leachate generation and storage capacity

4. Effectiveness of leachate treatment plant

5. Options to reduce hydrogen sulfide generation

6. Effectiveness of current landfill gas production and treatment

7. Recommendations for improvements

We acknowledge the site has been partially responsible for generating odour. However the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has gone on record as saying that the Shongweni Landfill site is not the only source of odour in the area and that they are investigating these.

We have spent more than R10-million in an effort to mitigate our contribution to the odour. We have reviewed our waste streams and have stopped accepting two types of waste including an ash product, which could be contributing to the odour. All five leachate storage tanks have been covered and fitted with activated carbon gas extraction and filtration systems. This formed part of a detailed leachate management plan that has been submitted to the DEA. A Hydromulch layer has been added to the landfill surface; this has also been fitted with gas extraction and filtration systems; and two monitors have been purchased to assist with real-time air quality monitoring. We have appointed two independent experts to undertake a toxicological survey (sampling on site as well as dispersion modelling) and a technical assessment of landfill gas emissions. We realise there is still work to be done and as a company with a proud 37-year history of compliance, we will go beyond legally required minimums as we implement all actions necessary to reduce our impact.

The site remains fully compliant. Following complaints about odours possibly emanating from our site, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) issued us with a compliance notice late last year. This is not unique to Shongweni; any landfill anywhere in the world emits odours. Prior to this, we had put in place a number of measures to mitigate odour sources. We have now implemented additional measures at considerable cost and believe these have helped to reduce odours

The site remains fully compliant. Following complaints about odours possibly emanating from our site, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) issued us with a compliance notice late last year. This is not unique to Shongweni; any landfill anywhere in the world emits odours. Prior to this, we had put in place a number of measures to mitigate odour sources. We have now implemented additional measures at considerable cost and believe these have helped to reduce odours

We can assure our neighbouring communities that fugitive emissions from the site are well below relevant ambient air quality standards / guidelines. The health risks associated with ambient air quality on the boundaries of the disposal site are very low. We have appointed independent specialists who will respond directly to any questions from complainants about health effects and environmental impacts. We have an extensive worker occupational health exposure monitoring programme in place on site and we have not had any occupational diseases reported

The most critical change in the waste industry was the change of waste classification and treatment regimens prescribed. With the agreement of the DEA, we have reverted to increase treatment as per the old guidelines.

We continuously engage with our stakeholders, including the DEA, Ethekwini Municipality and the community via their registered NPO. This engagement takes the form of meetings, media statements and sites visits where requested.

The site is securely fenced off. There have been a few incidents with scavengers trespassing onto site. We have increased security and engage with the communities repeatedly to highlight the dangers of coming onto site without the correct protective safety gear.

As with any landfill in the world, we do have a localised odour, which is intermittent. It is not present 24/7. The odour travels dependent on weather conditions.

Our independent complaints analysis supports the DEA assertion that there is more than one source of odour, which they are investigating. We are in the process of implementing onsite, real time air monitoring that will quantify the gases arising from the site at any point.

We have appointed two independent experts to undertake a toxicological survey (sampling on site as well as dispersion modelling) and a technical assessment of landfill gas emissions. We expect these reports to be finalised by March.