The Yara fertiliser-handling and bagging facility in Charleston Hill, Paarl, has come under the spotlight regarding its air quality. Picture: Mwangi Githahu/Cape Argus
Cape Town - Members of the anti-pollution Charleston Hill Action Group (Chag) have ramped up their opposition to the Yara fertiliser handling and bagging facility in Paarl by hiring the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) to assist them in their battle with the Drakenstein Municipality.

Chag contacted the centre to help write a petition in response to the municipality’s call for comments from people and institutions interested in, and affected by the Yara facility.

The petition has focused its sights on what it claims is the impact on the community’s health by the Yara facility, which seeks to significantly expand its Paarl operations. The facility in Paarl is situated in an industrial area which was established during the 1970s, and a fertiliser plant has been operating there since 2003.

According to the petition, Yara’s expansion is not compliant with national ambient air quality standards for several health damaging air pollutants, including PM10 and PM2.5. It claims there is robust evidence in the public domain that exposure to elevated levels of PM2.5 in ambient air causes premature mortality and cardiovascular effects (predominantly ischemic heart disease, which are heart problems caused by narrowed heart arteries and congestive heart failure).

The petition said: “This is a significant concern for our clients and they wish to bring it pertinently to your attention in this submission.”

The deadline for all petitions and comments was last Monday, and on Friday, the municipality’s executive director for planning and development Lauren Waring confirmed it had received four objections and two petition lists.

“The one petition was signed by 109 people from the Charleston Hill Action Group and the other one by 20 people from the Elridge community.”

“Comments received from the community and the results of the screening Air Quality Impact assessment (AQIA) that was done, will be collated into a report for consideration by the Appeal Committee, the authorised structure of the Municipality,” said Waring.

The next step in the process will involve the Municipality’s Appeal Committee, scheduled to meet at the latest in October.

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus