'Leaky factory must shape up or stay closed'

Time of article published Sep 17, 2000

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By Jillian Green

Residents of Lotus Park in Isipingo, KwaZulu-Natal have called on the minister of environmental affairs and Tourism, Valli Moosa, and his provincial counterpart, Narend Singh, to ensure that the Sasol Polymers plant remained closed until the company had met the community's demands.

This came after a chlorine gas leak from the Sasol Polymers plant affected 27 people, including schoolchildren, last week.

At a meeting at the Strelitzia Secondary School on Sunday, residents and members of the Isipingo Environmental Crisis Committee voiced their concern over the apparent lack of action by chemical plants in the area to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air.

The committee's chairperson, Nanda Nair, said they agreed that the health of the children could not be compromised because of a company that continued to experience problems.

Preggie Naidoo, another committee member, said they were demanding a safe environment for communities and schools.

"We need the relevant equipment to take care of the children and a gas-room to house them in case of a leak," he said.

A health study also needed to be carried out on people in the area to determine the pollutants' effects. "We also want an independent investigation of the whole plant."

Desmond D'Sa, chairperson of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said it was "the industry's moral obligation to keep the community safe".

The plant was closed last Thursday, but was expected to reopen on Tuesday.

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