A fire at the UPL South Africa warehouse in Cornubia during the July resulted in a chemical spill. Picture: Supplied.
A fire at the UPL South Africa warehouse in Cornubia during the July resulted in a chemical spill. Picture: Supplied.

Portfolio committee on environment, forestry and fisheries wants UPL South Africa to face consequences of non-compliance, negligence

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Nov 24, 2021

Share this article:

DURBAN - The portfolio committee on environment, forestry and fisheries has called on UPL South Africa to face the consequences of non-compliance and negligence.

The UPL South Africa warehouse in Cornubia, north of Durban, was burned to the ground during week-long unrest in July by alleged looters.

On Tuesday the committee had received briefings on a joint preliminary investigation into the compliance profile of the UPL South Africa in Cornubia.

The committee was of the view that there has been no consequence management applied as yet regarding the non-compliance of the UPL with the regulatory framework in order to operate its business. The committee heard that the UPL acted negligently and that a criminal investigation needs to be instituted.

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Barbara Creecy informed the committee that the preliminary investigation has indicated that the UPL is responsible for the fire and that it did not have the required compliance certificate. The UPL is also responsible for the cost of the clean-up operations. The matter has been reported to the law enforcement authorities and the National Prosecutions Authority will make a decision to prosecute and the court to make a finding ultimately.

Committee chairperson Faith Muthambi asked the department about the government agency or organ of state which ultimately authorised the UPL to operate in the area to cause such a disaster.

“We are made to believe that environmental inspectors (green scorpions) at various levels do regular inspections at facilities like the UPL to ensure compliance with relevant and applicable legislation. “Why wasn’t this done proactively to prevent illegal operations, as you are reporting here?” Muthambi said.

The committee said the department responded by saying UPL was operating under legal radar.

A follow-up question by Muthambi was who failed to do their work that the UPL was allowed to operate undetected?

“What message are we passing on to potential law breakers that in South Africa you can operate without relevant authorisations if you operate accident free?” asked Muthambi.

The committee also heard that as part of the clean-up and recovery operations, the UPL has since spent over R247 million on clean-up and will have a primary health clinic in Umdloti where members of the affected communities can access primary healthcare services.

To comment on this story send a WhatsApp message to our BackChat column on 071 485 7995.

Daily News

Share this article: