Shongweni Landfill in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Shongweni Landfill in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

An official decision compelling waste management company EnviroServ to cease all operations at its Shongweni Landfill in Durban was handed down by Durban High Court judge Gregory Kruger last week.

Kruger granted an interim order which now prevents EnviroServ from accepting, treating and disposing of waste at the landfill site.

For over a year, complaints of toxic fumes were being lodged with authorities responsible for the landfill and to the department of environmental affairs. Residents said the gasses emanating from the site were causing illnesses among many of them, including young children.

Kruger told EnviroServ’s legal counsel Johan Wasserman that he had to balance EnviroServ’s interests and the dumping of hazardous material with human lives.

Kruger also criticised EnviroServ for failing to make available its much-awaited toxicology report, however Wasserman said the company paid for the report and that it was confidential.

Landfill compliance

EnviroServ commented on its public battle with residents and maintain that that the landfill has been “compliant in all regards”. It added that it had concrete evidence that it was not the only contributor to the odour problem in the area.

EnviroServ’s CEO Dean Thompson said the company’s various scientific studies, which they would present in due course, would prove this.

Kruger has requested that a copy of the toxicology report be filed with the court.

“It is important and urgent that this gets resolved,” Kruger said.

EnviroServ called the Kruger’s decision “premature” and has appealed with the minister of environmental affairs that operations at the landfill site continue.

With the Durban High Court granting a temporary interdict against EnviroServ, the company is concerned the science regarding the problems at Shongweni Landfill has been misunderstood, Thompson said.

“The risk now is that the communities may be further compromised by the closure decision as hazardous waste disposal experts fear the malodour will increase,” he added.

Advocate Charmane Nel, counsel for UHA, said the non-profit was seeking a total suspension of EnviroServ’s waste management license as ordered by the department of environmental affairs.

According to Thompson, further affidavits will be prepared by both parties and filed before approaching the judge for a preferential court date.