‘Toxic City’ lifts lid on harmfulhealth effects on Durban's south basin

By Mphathi Nxumalo Time of article published Sep 14, 2018

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Durban - The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) launched its book Toxic City, which details the harmful health effects chemicals have had on people in the South Durban area.

Desmond D’Sa, the alliance’s co-ordinator, said the book was based on numerous environmental impact assessments and risk assessment records that were publicly available. He said some of the reports that formed a large part of the book dated as far back as the 1990s.

Wentworth, Merebank and parts of the Bluff have become notorious for having a high disease burden due to the area being heavily industrialised with oil refineries and chemical factories.

The Daily News has previously reported on complaints of pungent smells emanating from the area that affected many residents.

“We have buried a lot people from the Wentworth and Merebank area who died of cancer,” said D’Sa. He recalled a conversation with a Catholic priest who said he had conducted about 250 funerals for people from Wentworth who had died of cancer.

The book, which has been in the making for more than a year, details how some of the chemicals produced in the factories corrode the pipes that transport them.

“What type of damage are these chemicals doing to people’s lungs when they are released into the atmosphere?” D'Sa asked.

D’Sa, who grew up in the area, said he was afraid to go to the hospital for a check-up because of what the doctors might discover.

“The book is sure to ruffle the feathers of big corporate companies in the area, and I am expecting them to challenge its findings.”

Toxic City is available on the alliance’s website, www.sdcea.org.za

This is an extract from the book: “The South Durban basin is no stranger to an environment filled with toxins. This is evident from the endless chemicals emitted by the various companies listed above. Due to being exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis for a prolonged period of time, many residents of the South Durban area are exposed to cancer.

“Be it themselves or a family member, many residents deal with the reality and difficulties of living with cancer.

“The cancer statistics featured above are from the SDCEA Cancer Registry, which was formed as a way to record and monitor the cancer patients in the area.

“These statistics are evidence that cancer is a serious problem, where some of the most recorded cancer patients suffer with lung cancer. This can be attributed to the poor environmental conditions they are currently living in.

“Many of the health impacts mentioned above include asthma, respiratory problems and cancer - this is evidence that these chemicals are having a detrimental effect on the residents.”

Daily News

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