Businessman charged for abandoning a hazardous chemical factory


PORT SHEPSTONE – A businessman, now based in Umhlanga in eThekwini has been criminally charged for abandoning a hazardous chemical factory leaving behind volumes of potentially deadly chemicals and failing to heed government warnings.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourist and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube was shocked by the messy sight when she was led, by environmental inspectors, to the forsaken and dilapidating facilities in Izotsha Area of Port Shepstone on Thursday.

Accompanied by Ray Nkonyeni Municipality Mayor Nomusa Mqwebu and the Police, Dube-Ncube visited the site to witness first hand the amount of pollution.

“This is the worst of its kind that we have ever seen in our areas. This is a disaster waiting to happen. He must be charged. We are happy that the police have taken over this crime scene and cordoned off the area. Business people like him must be charged. The waste from her finds itself to our watercourses,” she said. Dube-Ncube said a multi-disciplinary team will work on the case.

The department has brought seven counts of a litany of violations of the environment against the businessman. The facilities appear to have been abandoned about two years ago.

He has also been given 48 hours to clean up the facilities and look for ways to dispose of the chemicals since vagrants are already sleeping in the warehouses.

The businessman also abandoned another warehouse adjacent to this where biodiesel was being manufactured. No plausible rationale has been provided by the business as a motive for abandoning the business and the property.

EDTEA has received a notification through the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries about abandoned facility at Izotsha Area in Port Shepstone.

On 6 April 2020, officials from the Department accompanied by the police responded and conducted a site inspection wherein two vandalized building structures.

Various chemicals and powders which among includes, nitric acid, swan chemicals, hydrochloric acid, formalin, sulphuric acid and other unlabelled chemicals were found.

Files with different documents with the information of the factory; a mini-lab with different bottles of chemicals being stocked on the shelves and a mixer and 2 tanks of about 10 000 litres containing some liquids remained inside the facilities.

DEFF, EDTEA and National SAPS Forensic unit conducted a follow-up site inspection aimed taking samples on-site and to make a determination of the impacts of chemicals.

The analysis of results has not been completed. On 12 April 2020, a criminal case was registered at Port Shepstone.

Parallel to a criminal process, administrative enforcement has been pursued aimed at undertaking clean-up operations of the facility.

On 17 April 2020, a Pre-Compliance Notice was issued to the owner of the facility. No representation was received from ANZ Chemical’s owner within the specified time frame as per the pre-compliance notice.

Subsequently, a Compliance Notice was issued and served to the owner on Thursday 23 April 2020 leading to the charges being formally laid against the perpetrator.

Officials have already taken a warning statement from the owner of the facility.

Dube-Ncube proceeded to Gamalakhe Township and closed down a wholesaler whose tenant owner operated without a permit. A total of 6 undocumented foreign nationals were also arrested today.

“It’s shocking that he’s also selling expired food. Some of the perishables expired in 2019. This is criminal,” she said.Enquiries:
Ndabezinhle Sibiya

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