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Johannesburg - South Africa hopes to implement the next phase of the Waste Act before the end of the year, the KwaZulu-Natal agriculture and environmental affairs department said on Wednesday.
This phase - part eight of the act - is aimed at reducing industrial contamination and unauthorised waste disposal sites.
“We have always relied on international standards for assessment of sites as well as for setting remediation objectives, and still will to some extent, however we will now have soil screening values, which will be used in South Africa,” said department head Yasmin Bacus.
“These values will continually be amended as and when necessary, depending on what science dictates,” she said.
Bacus announced this in a speech prepared for delivery at the 20th International Committee on Contaminated Land conference, in Durban.
The conference, which runs until Thursday, was attended by delegates from across Africa, and by people from the affected industries.
Previously, industries' remediation activities were voluntary, with little or no monitoring and authorisation by the regulator.
“The new legislative regime will ensure that government partners with industry in a form of co-regulation whereby 1/8Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa 3/8 will issue orders and remediation orders for areas which have been declared as contaminated...,” said Bacus.
The aim of this would be to remediate or manage the sites, and contain contaminants to prevent them from spreading.
She said the approach was based on “the polluter pays” principle, where anyone who contaminated land would be held liable for the remediation of that land.