On Thursday the monitoring committee had to meet at a landfill parking lot because the event’s venue changed at the last minute due to the alleged double-booking of the Kwalinda Community Hall in KwaNdengezi, and security concerns following a shooting in the area earlier in the day.
The DEA’s deputy director-general for chemical and waste management, Mark Gordon, was unable to deliver his presentation on the status of the landfill, but he gave a short briefing.
“There are remedial measures on the site, which authorities are monitoring very carefully, and I must say it is progressing very well,” he said.
Gordon said the DEA acknowledged EnviroServ’s effort in working towards getting the site back to what it should be and that some studies on the impact of what had happened at the site had been concluded.
On when the site would resume its income-generating activities such as accepting, treating and disposing of waste, Gordon said: “We don’t know when that will be, but, when it meets the satisfaction of the department, we will make a decision. But the site is not ready to open any time soon.”
Gordon agreed there were many processes that EnviroServ should have followed as part of its licence conditions, including engaging with the public.
“It’s all water under the bridge now. Going forward, all reports will be tabled at the monitoring committee meetings and shared with the community so they have enough time to respond,” he said.
The Sunday Tribune has reported extensively on the controversial landfill, whose operational and waste treatment licence was suspended by the DEA in April after it served a compliance notice on EnviroServ earlier this year.
Members of the public who attended the meeting expressed their annoyance with EnviroServ’s chief executive, Dean Thompson, who was seen leaving the site as they arrived.
“It is very disrespectful of him to just run out of here. We expect him to come here and address us as a senior person in this company,” said environmentalist Desmond D’Sa.
Thompson’s name did not appear on the meeting’s agenda, but his presence on the site sparked anger in some.
“He is making millions out of this site and he needs to face the people he is killing. We want to see him at the next meeting,” said Bongani Mthembu.
His sentiments were echoed by D’Sa, who accused EnviroServ of being deceitful and said they needed to start committing to the things they were saying in the media.
EnviroServ’s Thabiso Taaka said the company was committed to implementing the remedial measures and they were not hiding anything from the public.
The meeting was rescheduled for Wednesday, when the civil group, Upper Highway Air, is expected to interrogate EnviroServ’s experts on its recent report on the human health risks arising from the landfill, which was compiled by the scientific research company Infotox.