Air quality NGO Upper Highway Air has brought legal action against waste management firm EnviroServ to interdict and restrain the company from conducting any of its licenced activities at the Shongweni landfill site.
The NGO claims that the landfill site is the cause of an odour in the Upper Highway areas which has led to health ailments and other problems.
Yesterday the NGO filed a combined summons in the Durban High Court against EnviroServ, its managing director Dean Thompson, technical director Esmé Gombault; the Minister of Environmental Affairs; the Minister of Water and Sanitation; the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs; and the eThekwini Municipality.
The Mercury has previously reported that residents of Hillcrest, Shongweni and Dassenhoek say that the fumes from its operations have made living conditions in the area unbearable, and have affected their health.
According to the particulars of the claim filed, the NGO said while the Environment Affairs ministry had asked EnviroServ to show cause why its licences should not be suspended, the ministry had yet to make a decision on the matter.
The NGO said it believed that unless directed to comply, EnviroServ would continue to “conduct its waste management activities in breach of its own prescribed operating procedures”.
The NGO has asked for relief that in the event of the Environmental Affairs ministry not suspending or revoking EnviroServ’s licences, the company should be interdicted and restrained from conducting any waste management activities at Shongweni, except to carry out remedial action if necessary.
It also asked that the firm be interdicted from conducting activities at Shongweni that were in contravention of its licences and that it be directed to comply with its statutory regulatory obligations.
On its website, the NGO said the current legal action “in no way” detracted from the Department of Environmental Affairs’ enforcement procedures regarding the process underway under way, in which a decision is yet to be made as to whether the company’s waste management licences would be suspended or revoked.
“The relief sought in the action is for the interdictment of the operations in the event that the department has not already suspended or revoked (the company’s) licences by the time the matter reaches trial, an order directing (the company) to comply with its licence conditions and statutory obligations.”
Approached for comment regarding the legal action, Thompson said: “We confirm having received the summons. Our lawyers are reviewing the charges and will respond in due course.”