Durban - The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) announced that it has filed an appeal against a decision by the Department of Mineral Resources to grant Sasol and Italian multinational oil and gas company ENI environmental authorisation to explore for oil and gas along the North and South coasts of KwaZulu-Natal.
The alliance, which represents 18 community and environmental organisations, said it was lodging the appeal in the interests of the environment and the public.
It submitted the appeal to the departments of Mineral Resources and Environmental Affairs, the Petroleum Agency of SA, ENI and Sasol. The appeal states that the alliance found the draft environmental impact assessment report wanting, and that environmental authorisation for the project should not have been granted.
The appeal was submitted on 10 grounds, including that there was a legally flawed assessment of the risks and impacts of a catastrophic oil spill; failure to consider climate change and its impacts; failure to adequately assess socio-economic and marine ecology impacts, among others; and inadequate public participation.
“The report makes no attempt to consider either the cumulative impact of the exploration or future production activities on the fisherfolk or marine ecosystems,” said the appeal.
The alliance said: “It is clear from the admissions in the report that there is scientific uncertainty as to the nature and scope of potential environmental damage due to the lack of information about deep-water marine habitats.”
Also that the economic impact of the proposed exploration on people who depended on the ocean for a living had not been considered in the event of an unplanned spill.
And in the event of an accidental spill, the effects would be felt along the east coast through KZN and the Eastern Cape, which could affect marine and coastal-based livelihoods.
The alliance said that in meetings it conducted in the areas to be affected by the project, it became apparent that the “public participation activities were insufficient and did not constitute a reasonable effort to include all communities that might be affected”.
The alliance claimed that communities who were unaware of the project included those in Kosi Bay, Sodwana Bay, St Lucia, Hluhluwe, Mtubatuba, Mtunzini, Stanger, Tongaat, La Mercy, Umdloti, Verulam, uMhlanga, Central Durban, the Bluff, Merebank, Isipingo, eManzimtoti, Chatsworth, Inanda, uMlazi, Phoenix, KwaMashu, Illovo, Umkomaas, Ifafa Beach, Scottburgh, Margate, Mtwalume and Port Edward.
ENI said it had received SDCEA’s appeal and would respond within the framework of the EIA appeals process.
Sasol said: “Eni, as the operator of ER236, has been formally notified.”
The departments of environmental affairs and mineral resources did not respond to requests for comment.