No decision on ‘flytrap’

City ‘kept on delivering sludge’

TygerTalk : 30th March 2011

By: Esme Erasmus

A final decision about whether Brunig Compost Processors, which operates the Eco-Gro compost plant on Vissershok Road outside Durbanville, must be issued a compliance notice or not, is yet to be made.

The Environmental Management Inspectorate of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), also known as the Green Scorpions, has served pre-compliance notices on Brunig Compost Processors, as well as on the City of Cape Town and Enviroserv Waste Management.

 Enviroserv purchased a shareholding in Brunig Compost Processors in March 2004.

 Brunig Compost Processors has been processing compost since May 1997 from sludge – raw human sewage, which is obtained from the City’s wastewater works.

 These pre-compliance notices came after a site inspection by the Green Scorpions at the compost plant in December last year after being alerted by the Durbanville Community Forum (DCF).

Members of the DCF and surrounding farmers have for years complained about the “illegal” activities of Brunig and wanted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be done. They were concerned about the fly plague and the possible contamination of the Diep River.

DEAT confirmed to the DCF in December that Brunig Compost Processors never had the necessary Section 20 waste permit in terms of the Environmental Conservations Act to run its business.

Pre-compliance notices are the first step by the department towards full compliance notices and possible prosecution.

According to Albi Modise, spokesperson for DEAT, the department is still processing the representations that were submitted by Brunig, The City and Enviroserv a week ago on 23 March.

‘The department has reason to believe that certain provisions of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (NEMWA) have been contravened,’ he said.

“The department is obliged to consider the reasons given in order to make an informed decision on whether or not a breach of the law has indeed occurred.

“Until such time that the department has fully considered the representations that were made, it would be inappropriate and procedurally unfair to disclose detailed information,” Modise said.

On the possible lack of authorisation by Brunig to run its business, he said the department must first fully evaluate the content of the representations and evaluate the compliance status of the facility in relation to the necessary authorisation requirements as required by the NEMWA and any other relevant legislation.

Brunig Compost Processors, after processing compost for more than 10 years from cow manure, obtained approval for a land use departure in May 1997 to process compost from raw human sewage. The temporary land use departure issued for this, lapsed in 2002.

A second land use departure to continue with this land use, which was approved by the City of Cape Town in 2006, lapsed in May 2007.

Brunig Compost Processors applied in February 2007 for a consent use to expand the existing plant by erecting a new shed facility and additional composting areas.

This was replaced with an interim amended application in December when two of the adjacent landowners applied for a high court interdict to stop the manufacturing of compost.

An application for a consent use that was then granted by the City, lapsed in June 2010. Although the plant had no further authorisation to continue its business, the City allegedly kept on delivering sludge to the plant.

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