Durban gas leak sends five people to hospital

The South Durban community has expressed anger after five people from the suburb of Merebank had to be admitted to hospital after a gas leak at a nearby pesticides factory belonging to Bayer.

Desmond D'Sa, chairperson of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said the alliance was not satisfied with promises by factory MD Deon Lotter that the company would cover the hospital fees.

The poisoning would have long-term effects on people's health, he said.

The alliance was also disturbed that the city's health department had failed to visit the scene of the accident, said D'Sa.

Companies in South Durban operated in a lawless vacuum. There had been no statement on how the leak had affected Bayer's own workers, and there had been no reaction from city manager Mike Sutcliffe, who had publicly stated that his position was "to be sensitive to industry".

D'Sa asked for a full investigation by the departments of health and the environment.

Lotter would not comment on the matter except to say that representatives from the department of labour were already in his office.

He referred Sapa to Margaret Meyer, public relations officer at Bayer's Johannesburg office.

Meyer could not be reached for comment. - Sapa

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