CLEAN AIR

FEBRUARY 16th 2020

A response to the Mayor’s letter of February 14th

Firstly, an acknowledgement of the clean- up of the landfill site which has been on-going during the last week:  there is now a huge difference at the site and a reduction in large scale dumping of waste.  Thanks to the Mayor and the Municipality for their response to the request to get this done, and for calling a meeting on March 3rd

To clarify:  ‘Clean Air group’ or GASP (Group Against Swellendam Pollution) is not a formal body: it is a simply a group of Swellendam residents who share the common goal of eradicating the fires at the landfill site and exploring alternatives for it and for further solutions to managing waste disposal through recycling initiatives.

It was established at the beginning of the forum that the “focus should be on presenting clear factual information. A cooperative, supportive and non-adversarial approach should be taken initially in engaging the municipality in order to seek solutions, while holding them to public accountability and emphasizing the urgency of the matter at hand as one of major social, environmental and legal consequences.” ( minutes of the full discussion can be found under the Mayor’s letter on this page)

It emerged during the discussion that rumours were rife regarding the site and its management – everyone had heard versions “gangsters / mafia – deliberate fire setting – lack of security and firearms – mismanagement – corruption”. It was decided nothing was to be gained by basing action on rumour and the only way forward was to self-educate – so that questions or issues raised at the meeting were based on fact and not on gossip.Since then the process of self-education has begun and continues on several fronts:

  • research into past Waste Management Policies and Environmental laws and principles,  (not in an adversarial manner, but to ensure that the questions and discussions are fact based)
  • Visits to the Landfill site, with personal interactions with both manager and waste pickers.
  • Investigation into successful waste management projects in other parts of the country

In direct response to the Mayor’s letter we would like to endorse his position that rumour mongers, those with hidden political agendas and personal vendettas actively damage possibilities of working together to find solutions for the future. We feel that it may have harmed future cooperative efforts if the wider public believe that the group is dominated by such people because this is absolutely and emphatically not the case.  

The collective group is solution driven – speculation is not welcome and those who have been involved in the process so far would like to strongly disassociate themselves from any suggestion of interference with political process, or personal antipathy towards members of the Council or administration, at the same time reserving the right to raise questions if we discover, through our fact finding mission, irregularities of any sort.

The next step will be to look for a permanent and effective waste management plan for the area – preferably an innovative one which will bring attention to the area in all the best ways.

PLEASE ATTEND THE PUBLIC MEETING ON MARCH 3rd – IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT WASTE MANAGEMENT AND THE CHALLENGES IT PRESENTS. EMAIL YOUR QUESTIONS TO mayor@swellenmun.co.za

FEBRUARY 15th 2020

“I popped into Bontebok dump this morning and I was totally amazed at the cleanup operation in progress. The entire eastern slope has been cleared of garbage and things are really looking good. Fires seem to be under control and contractor on site with his team.”

FEBRUARY 14th 2020

A Letter from the Mayor of Swellendam

Dear Swellendammer
Waste management, civic action, and the nasty gossipers!
I guess there’s a mean streak in all of us, in some more so than in others, and some are simply better at hiding theirs!
I have no problem with legitimate civic action. In fact, I consider it to be a crucial component of any vibrant democracy, and would under normal circumstances encourage robust but civilized public participation.
I was hoping that ‘Clean Air’, or ‘Gasp’, would be such an initiative, especially since they proclaimed at the outset their intention to engage stakeholders to help find solutions to the unsatisfactory state of affairs at our Landfill site…laudable indeed, so I thought.
About a week ago I penned an open letter to the public on the subject of our waste management challenges. I invited anyone with constructive proposals to contact my office directly through the email address provided. It was also posted on the ‘Clean Air’ platform.
To date not a single response has been received from anybody. Instead, it appears the ‘Clean Air’ participants have been rallied to chat, discuss, plot and manoeuvre among themselves how best to embarrass the municipality and expose the ghastly monsters who ambulate the sinister corridors of municipal power. Engaging with criminal investigators, preparing affidavits, meetings to plan the next assault on the criminal gang that rule the dorp…let’s lay criminal charges against the municipal manager, mayor, the entire Mayco…crooks all! Armageddon is here and we are all going to die…so slay the dragons at city hall!
And let the insults fly because ‘the nastier we are the more we will achieve’, or such is the mentality of some. ‘Gross inaction, complete lack of accountability, dereliction of duty’…..Meanwhile, the more reasoned voices who are trying to moderate the conversation, and those who appeal for a fair and balanced assessment are drowned out by the Terminators! And just for good measure
let’s throw in the juicy bit about ‘corruption’ to make things sexier and more palatable for public consumption…did you know the mayor stole the money, millions of Rands, allocated to fix the Landfill, and the mayor’s friends get the contracts, and so on! (Reminds me of the time I was accused of stealing an entire wind farm…yes, a wind farm!)
Gosh, I suppose “all is fair in love and war”!
But really folks, dare I say… “Sit back and take a deep breath”.
If anybody wants to be taken seriously about this very important matter of waste management, then let us simply stick to the facts and please stop with the nastiness, the slurs and insults, the half-truths and exaggerations…stoking one another up in an emotional frenzy will achieve nothing. All it does is to create a silly diversion away from the important matter at hand.
Since we have absolutely nothing to hide, and for the sake of healthy public engagement, I have arranged a public meeting for 3 March in the Town Hall. So, whatever it is that you say behind our backs… the slander, gossip, truths, bona fide concerns, etc… please come and express yourself. As always I will be frank and direct, and I invite everyone to do the same.

NICHOLAS MYBURGH/Mayor
13 February 2020

In the interests of open and transparent and hopefully constructive discussion here following is the transcript of the meeting referred to by the Mayor, which was convened to discuss questions which could be presented to him prior to the public meeting on March 3rd:

(the meeting was recorded and the recording provided the text of the following)

CLEAN AIR OPEN FORUM

Notes of Meeting held 10 February, 2020 at Veldkornet Street, Swellendam

PRESENT: Jenni van Niekerk (facilitator), Nick Scholtz, Natalie Brown, John Paisley, Amanda Shackley, Amber McIntyre, Jesse Jessup, Anthony Hunter, Nancy Soller, Jill Reinecke, Terry Andrew, Gerda Mercorio, Alex Hayn, Elana Theunissen.

Congratulations and thanks all round for being a really great “self-emerging, self-organizing movement,” as Jenni put it.

Anthony offered a written document from the Director of Corporate Services (Dana du Plessis) stating that the Bontebok Waste Disposal tender has not been awarded yet as none of the tenderers met the minimum compliance criteria. The long-term solution is transporting waste to Karwyderskraal [landfill site 118km away operated by Overberg District Municipality]. In the meantime a month-to-month agreement has been made with a local service provider. He listed the immediate actions that are necessary, but never mentioned extinguishing the fires.

According to Dana du Plessis, DEA&DP has recently met with the Mayor.

PURPOSE OF THE MEETING

It was proposed that the purpose of the meeting was to prepare for the public meeting called by the Mayor on 3rd March, as well as to identify a core group to formulate a list of questions and present these to him prior to that public meeting. A secondary objective was to discuss a suitable communication platform for ongoing engagement with interested citizens.

INTRODUCTIONS

Each person introduced themselves using the prompt ‘Who I am. Why I care. What I feel called/able to do. What I bring.’

Skills in the group include: investigative, communications and media, organizational, legal, facilitation and planning, networking, animal welfare, civil engineering, research, negotiation and representation.

Jenni read out a message from Lisa Perold describing the state of the illegal and unsecured Suurbraak dump including the fact that the waste includes veterinary waste, carcasses, and empty agricultural poison containers, and it is situated in a watershed. The thick oily leachate flows into the river and eventually into the Buffelsjagsrivier which in turn irrigates food/silage production.

John introduced the Sustainable Green Swellendam Initiative and that they hope to become an umbrella organization for various initiatives including recycling – which we can talk about down the road.

It was requested by members present that we continue to focus on presenting clear non-aggressive and factual information. It was also discussed that a cooperative, supportive and non-adversarial approach should be taken initially in engaging the municipality in order to seek solutions, while holding them to public accountability and emphasizing the urgency of the matter at hand as one of major social, environmental and legal consequences.

TO BE FOLLOWED UP IN THE GROUP:

  1. Find out about the Waste Management laws
  2. Identify best practices already being followed by other municipalities.
  3. Engage experts to help inform us.
  4. Discuss what communication platform we use going forward – Swellengram? Facebook?
  5. Create a ‘Problem Tree’ broken down into causes and consequences – Jenni can guide this process, which could be done on an online platform.
  6. To invite members from Railton so that they also have a voice in this group.
  7. Discussion around ‘Consequences’ and next steps should the problem not be addressed with necessary urgency.

DISCUSSION OF GROUP STRUCTURE

At this stage there is no formal entity, just a network of concerned and active citizens with varying degrees of involvement.

Suggested 3 concentric circles:

  • Core group to take the lead at least up to the 3 March meeting – these members could rotate in and out from the wider group depending on the need and skills of the focus at hand.
  • A wider active support circle of individuals and sub-committees to take on certain tasks and feed back to the core group.
  • Wider circle of citizenry who are concerned, want to be kept up to date and can take action when required e.g. recycling.

It was proposed that the core group for the preparation of the questions for the Mayor be:

ALEX, NANCY, GABRIELLA, and TERRY, and that the list of questions be ready to present to the Mayor by Tuesday 25th February.

POINTS TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION BY THE CORE GROUP FOR THE LIST OF QUESTIONS:

FIRE: Most urgent! What measures are in place to extinguish fires completely and prevent further re-ignition. Why has the district fire department not been engaged since they have the expertise and equipment to put the fire out?

TENDERS and FINANCE: State of past and current tenders and budget expenditure. The previous tender was cancelled. What happened to the money previously spent without effective outcomes – will it be refunded? This person is the same one who is currently working on the site – yet he has failed in the past – why is he still employed? Can the new tender be an opportunity to set specifications that support a thoughtfully designed integrated waste management plan, with environmental best practice and economic opportunity considered.

LANDFILL CLOSURE: Since the landfill site is reaching capacity, what is in place to rehabilitate the site and secure it so that it can go through the rehab process? According to the law it takes 30 years of monitoring before the site can be signed off and closed as it can continue to pollute the ground and water.

SOCIAL: Is there a plan for the people currently living and working on the dump? They are resourceful actors in the system. How can they be incorporated in a dignified and healthy way?

HEALTH AND SAFETY: Raising concerns of air pollution and its effect on the community’s health, as well as the threat to aviation, and the danger of sink holes for people and vehicles accessing the dump site.

CRIMINAL: Why has the municipality not produced an Integrated Waste Management Plan as required by law? What actions have been taken to address legal and tender non-compliance? HAS THIS DUMP EVER BEEN DESIGNED as a technically sustainable dump according to legal guidelines?

FUTURE PLANS?

There was a request that all members become familiar with what SHOULD be happening before the meeting on the 3rd so that informed questions can be asked. Waste Management guidelines and best practices will be passed around within the group in a few days.

A meeting for the core group will be held at Alex’s offices this week to begin the List of Issues we would like to have presented to the Mayor for responses. Further discussion is needed to formulate the tactics in engaging the municipality, devise a balance and well researched presentation/document for submission, and decide on a spokesperson/people for the meeting.

It was a good and vibrant meeting of concerned individuals!

FEBRUARY 14th 2020 7:30 am

Early visit to the dump: No fires and the place is being transformed. It may look untidy only because of the clean up

FEBRUARY 13th 2020 4:00 pm

Thursday PM Dump update: All good news today, no fires and the dump site is being transformed with many workers cleaning the surrounds. Two machines working and one can see the difference. I spoke to the site manager, Mr. Andre Petersen, and he is positive and determined to sort out the issues, the fires being his top priority. Today is the day we give credit to those people who are making a difference and progress is right before our eyes.

FEBRUARY 12th 2020 5:20 pm

PM update: no fires, dump being cleaned up and at 5:15 one machine still working with the other two standing idle.

FEBRUARY 12th 2020 11:30 am

Dump report: No fires, three machines onsite with two apparently broken. Many workers cutting grass and cleaning up.


Breaking news: As from this morning SOILL have been banned from dumping hazardous and highly flammable waste at the dump.

Site foreman complained about the publicity on the Gram

FEBRUARY 11th 2020 7: 10 pm

Fire is out.

FEBRUARY 11th 2020 6 pm


Bontebok dump update; fires raging and toxic fumes being blown into town. Both machines are idle, they are waiting for an operator for the one and the other is broken again. The mechanics are working on the machine without any form of protection from the toxic fumes. There are people cutting the grass!
This is a complete disaster and requires urgent intervention if only to save the workers from being slowly poisoned. None have any form of mask.
” AH

FEBRUARY 11th 2020

“No fires this morning, a machine working and they are planning to bring in soil today. They are still missing a compacting machine.”

FEBRUARY 10th 2020

The Mayor has announced an open public meeting:

March 3rd Town Hall 6 30 pm

Today a group of people met , who had been brought together by online discussions about the crisis of fires at the dump. Outside the window of the meeting place, in central Swellendam, a plume of black smoke hovered – a terrible visual reminder of the reason we were there. As we left the venue darkness had fallen – but the reminder was still there in the thickness of the air and the acrid smell.

From the Golf Course 5 35 pm Feb 10

Summary of Meeting

  • Each person gave their reasons for attending, their concerns and focus. (Each also gave a summary of how they felt they could be of use to the group.)
  • There was a range of interests and expertise – but what was plain was that at the top of everyone’s list was to GET THE FIRES PUT OUT – permanently.
  • Work with the Municipality to find economic and effective solutions AS SOON AS POSSIBLE .
  • Educate and inform ourselves by seeking help from experts.
  • Look at the root causes and emanating problems to prevent a recurrence of the situation – the crime, social, environmental, and economic challenges
  • Long term goal would be to see a complete transformation of how Swellendam manages waste.: effective waste management and recycling, long term sustainable solutions
  • Transform an environmental disaster to a hub of industry and green solutions that the whole of Swellendam can be proud of….
  • A ‘core group’ was founded to put together a strategic plan of action.

The announcement of an Open Public Meeting on March 3rd was met with approval of the Municipality’s acknowledgement and recognition of the issues. But concerns about the lack of urgency – “the fires need to be dealt with NOW”

FULL NOTES OF THE MEETING AS RECORDED AT THE TIME CAN BE ACCESSED BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:

https://swellendam.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/CLEAN-AIR-MEETING-notes-10-Feb-2020.pdf

FEBRUARY 8th 2020 5 pm

How quickly things change……

MEDIA AND RESEARCH DOCUMENTS

Western Cape Integrated Waste Management Plan

Read the media release statement by Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell

The construction of the first of nine new regional waste disposal facilities in the Western Cape has commenced in Mossel Bay.

‘The new facility will serve multiple municipalities along the Garden Route and aims to stimulate the waste economy, create jobs and reduce the environmental impacts of waste management in the region.’

https://www.polity.org.za/article/giant-new-regional-waste-disposal-facility-launched-2020-02-07

Technical Guide for IWMP 2016

Decision making tool for IWMP 2014

https://www.environment.gov.za/

FEBRUARY 8th 2020 a.m

FEBRUARY 7th 2020

A welcome update: Today at the dump there are bulldozers, plenty of supervision and no visible fires.

A SHAMEFUL WASTE OF RESOURCES

Click the above title to read an article written in 2008 – a full 12 years ago – about the fires burning in the dump in Swellendam. We are asking the Municipality what steps have been taken in the last 12 years to address the situation, and how we as concerned citizens can assist the process.

FEBRUARY 2020

THE CLEAN AIR GROUP 

This is a platform for bringing awareness and organising action around the Waste Management issues at Bontebok municipal dump, and especially the ongoing fires that are causing immense damage to our health and environment.

A WhatsApp group was created for discussion around this issue and has now grown too large to continue in that format, and so has moved to this forum. All concerned citizens are invited to engage in this conversation, and information will be posted on this site so that all can be aware of what action has been taken and what information has been gathered from the various authorities.

The fires need to be completely extinguished. Following that, we need to work with the municipality and restructure our Waste Management so that it is in line with the environmental laws designed to provide a healthy environment for all. Other municipalities are successfully dealing with these issues – surely we can learn from them and do the same.

Everyone is welcome to comment here – but comments will only be posted if they are constructive and encourage solutions. 

Click here to read the previous Discussions on the WhatsApp group

LETTER SENT TO MUNICIPALITY ON JANUARY 28th

To officials and councillors concerned:

We address this letter to you as concerned residents and ratepayers for the Greater Swellendam Municipal Area.

During weekly visits to the Bontebok waste site, it has become apparent that little or no supervision takes place and that the site has degenerated into a disaster area.

Our concerns are the following:

  1. Recycling – the limited formal recycling that used to take place appears to have collapsed totally and no organised recycling is evident anymore. 
    Structures have been vandalised, broken down and removed from the area. 
  2. The resident site population, including children, unsupervised pets and livestock appears to be on the increase. Living on a refuse site carries its own health and safety risks. 
    In addition, residents feel unsafe when accessing the site due to the sometimes intimidating nature of people demanding monies for services that were not asked for. 
  3. Air Pollution : Particularly during warmer weather, the site can smoulder for days, releasing toxic smoke which is inevitably blown towards Railton and Swellendam residential area by the prevailing summer South Easter. This results in allergies, breathing discomfort, sinus headaches and general malaise. 
    In addition, this poses a fire hazard to Bontebok Park, Swellengrebel Airfield, Railton and surrounding industrial and agricultural land. 
  4. Airfield Flight Path: Due to the uncontrolled fires and heat, thermals are formed which suck  plastic bags into vortex which can caused serious accident risks to aircraft on final approach to the Swellengrebel Airfield. These bags have been reported from aircraft at 2500ft. 
    In addition, the surrounding nature reserve and agricultural land gets littered with plastic bags. 

We do not wish to labour the many obvious points relating to this Municipal disaster. It is of our opinion that this unsatisfactory state of affairs cannot continue unchecked and indefinitely. 
Swellendam Municipality needs to accept responsibility and implement a proper waste disposal process. 

There are numerous examples available ie Gordon’s Bay, Knysna, Plett, Mossel Bay of functional recycling refuse sites. 

We would appreciate your feedback on a proposed solution and an immediate extinguishing of smouldering fires at the site. 

Regards …..

Extract from the International Conference on Solid Waste Management 2015

“Incineration of plastic waste in an open field is a major source of air pollution. Most of the times, theMunicipal Solid Waste containing about 12% of plastics is burnt, releasing toxic gases like Dioxins, Furans,
Mercury and Polychlorinated Biphenyls into the atmosphere. Further, burning of Poly Vinyl Chloride liberates hazardous halogens and pollutes air, the impact of which is climate change. The toxic substances thus
released are posing a threat to vegetation, human and animal health and environment as a whole.
Polystyrene is harmful to Central Nervous System. The hazardous brominated compounds act as carcinogens and mutagens. Dioxins settle on the crops and in our waterways where they eventually enter into our food and hence the body system. These Dioxins are the lethal persistent organic pollutants (POPs) andits worst component, 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), commonly known as agentorange is a toxic compound which causes cancer and neurological damage, disrupts reproductive thyroid and respiratory systems. Thus, burning of plastic wastes increase the risk of heart disease, aggravates respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema and cause rashes, nausea or headaches, and damages the nervous system. Hence, a sustainable step towards tomorrow’s cleaner and healthier environment needs immediate attention of the environmentalists and scientists.”

RESPONSE FROM MAYOR MYBURGH FEBRUARY 6 2020

Dear Swellendammers 7 February 2020

I would like to take the matter of our landfill site directly to the public. It is time we have an open and frank discussion.
There are many views, complaints, suggestions, criticism and advice about the state and general management of the landfill site.
It is true that the condition of the landfill site is not acceptable. Nobody disputes that.
In particular, the occurrence of sporadic fires, hovering smoke, and the release of toxic fumes into the sky is not something that anyone can ignore, or justify.
The primary cause of fires is the number of unauthorized people, so-called ‘waste pickers’, who live on site. They burn all sorts of material in order to get to the enclosed metals which are then sold to dealers in scrap metal. This is how they make a living, and are adamant that this is the only way for them to survive. We have tried various measures to have them removed but thus far without success.
The ‘waste pickers’ can be forcibly removed today, but will certainly return tomorrow. The solution to this problem lies elsewhere. In the meantime the smoke and fires remain a menace which needs to be dealt with.
As an interim emergency measure the municipality has acquired a service provider with specialized heavy machinery who can do the necessary tidying up of the site, but also do compaction and provide adequate surface covering, and generally take measures that will prevent fires on an ongoing basis. Swellendam Municipality (SM) does not have this kind of machinery and rely on contractors to provide the service.
At the same time we need to have a discussion about the future of waste management for the simple reason that our own landfill site is coming perilously close to saturation point. In other words, we are running out of space. We simply cannot continue dumping next door to the current site because landfill sites are nowadays highly regulated. According to industry experts the cost involved in expanding our landfill site within the prescripts of the law would amount to roughly R35 million! This is clearly not a viable option for SM.
The only other legal and remotely affordable option is to cart our waste to a large regional Landfill site called Karwyderskraal near Botriver. However, this will not be cheap, and will certainly require higher than usual tariff adjustments for refuse. This may well be the only viable long-term solution.
In the meantime we also need to re-introduce some or other form of recycling in order to reduce the amount of waste that need to go to a landfill site. Probably the most serious challenge in this regard is the fact that China has stopped taking in recyclable materials which has plummeted prices to record lows worldwide. Far fewer people are now willing to get involved for purely economic reasons. However, getting some form of re-cycling off the ground remains an important aspect of the larger waste management picture.
I want to assure the public that we are making every effort to find practical, affordable, and sustainable solutions to all the challenges surrounding waste management. I invite everyone with constructive proposals to engage with my office, and to join the discussion on the best way forward. Lastly, I want to apologize for the terrible state of affairs at our landfill site, and give you my undertaking that we will leave no stone unturned in order to find proper solutions!
Kind regards

NICHOLAS MYBURGH
mayor@swellenmun.co.za

18 Comments


  1. Gabriella Rivera

    Dear all

    Following the discussions, and the wonderful people who have now made this very dire issue public, I would propose that we, all concerned members of the public. arrange a meeting, as soon as possible. We need to come together as a big group and plot a way forward. The diabolical environmental and human disaster that is the dump finally needs a proper resolution. The stunning lack of accountability and gross inaction by our municipality, and unbelievable dereliction of duty at all levels needs to be challenged!
    I propose we set up a meeting for next week?
    We are happy to use our farm as a venue (but as we are slightly out of town), but there is definitely the space. Alternatively I’m sure there are plenty of people who can make a space avail in town.
    Who is in?
    Warm regards
    Gabriella

    Reply
    1. Amber

      Yes, this is a good idea and thank you for offering a venue. I’m sure we will be able to find one that is more central. Suggest we give everyone enough notice so that they can plan to attend.

      Reply
  2. Lisa Perold

    Someone was saying on the WhatsApp group that footpaths for Railton residents are needed and that there is not enough money for everything……well here’s an idea. There are places where roads n footpaths are now being made out of recycled waste. I know that it is not as straightforward as that, but THAT is the type of thinking that we need to bring in. Like a more closed-loop system, so that waste starts becoming a resource. Not to be shipped away, but made use of here.
    Another thing…….can we please have a coupon system for bags of waste put out on the pavement.? I pay R158/month for refuse collection and I have now gotten my waste down to NIL, with my Neighbours putting out up to 4 bags a week, and paying the same as me. I do think that this might be a way to conscientize people to think before buying heavily packaged stuff…….but then again, maybe it could also increase fly-tipping. Wish!

    Reply
    1. Gabriella Rivera

      Hi Lisa

      This is a brilliant idea!!! Exactly how the municipality should be thinking!
      Reducing personal waste is the first step. And very key. Other cities in the world get it right and they simply lay down the law, and if you don’t comply you get fined, boom! People learn and adapt so very quickly! Also putting pressure on shops and producers to find single use plastic alternatives, and yes closed system thinking, re-use and upcycling and local industry, is going to be the way to go, as the recycling industry (foreign) has seemingly collapsed which is very worrying;-(
      But yes these are the kind of conversations and action needed.

      Let’s all get together to come up with a way forward!

      Reply
    2. Freerk Brandsma

      I like your idea of alternative use for waste.
      However, the Netherlands, despite being a waste importer for recycling purposes, most waste is still burned (to produce electricity).
      Just to give you another perspective on your last remark: We, as a business, pay R2675 per month for just 4 bags of waste per week (1 can) (I don’t understand were this is based on, have asked many questions about it, but don’t get an answer).

      Reply
  3. William

    I am so happy that some others are also interested in clean air.
    Yes,- the dump has become a major disaster area.
    I will be at the meeting and will lend my support, whatever it takes.

    Reply
  4. Stephen Young

    This is a hugely complex subject and it is not really helpful to point at the Municipality and accuse them of woeful failures. They have a budget which is strictly confined in specific areas and it is almost impossible for them to fund one area from another even though the need is there. However, the only way to make this work in the long term and sort out the “mess” is for the municipality to put together a long term strategy in conjunction with provincial and national government, which will see the transformation of waste management in the area over the next 20 years. Everything should be included in this strategy because it is only by taking that holistic approach that a real solution can be found. The key to the whole thing is the education of and support of the population for the project. That is how difficult it is. I have seen this done first hand and been briefed by the municipality of a town in Sweden called Vaxjo. Click on this link and see how they did it.
    https://www.crcresearch.org/community-research-connections/climate-change-adaptation-and-mitigation/v%C3%A4xj%C3%B6-sweden-greenest-city-e
    It is a long road, but the only answer in the end. applying sticking plasters to little bits of the problem will not achieve anything.

    Reply
  5. Amber

    Gratitude for the update – thank you to the person who followed up and took the pics:-) The clean up has begun at the dump. May it continue.

    Reply
  6. Nicholas Myburgh

    The Municipal Manager and I have called a public meeting for Tuesday 3 March at 18h30 in the Swellendam Town Hall to discuss the future of waste management and related matters. All welcome!

    Reply
  7. Freerk Brandsma

    The worrisome part of the waste burning is that in countries such as the Netherlands, were waste is burned to produce electricity, in ovens with highly regulated filtered waste pipes, that they give out warnings sometimes, when something goes wrong. The warning states that everybody should stay inside with all windows closed. In that case still with filtered waste pipes, here the town is constantly covered by very toxic dioxins. (Studies have shown that exposure to dioxins may cause adverse health effects, including hormonal problems, infertility, cancer, and possibly diabetes. medicalnewstoday.com). Apart from that, its an f-ing disgrace towards tourist that still regular drive to the old Bontebok entrance (or to the airport).
    A practical solution to start with: Put a fence around it with guards. Employ some of the guys living there to clean up the surroundings, pay them more (or equal) than what they would have earned otherwise. Regulate the waste that comes in.
    A suggestion: Start with separating garden refuse, make a large composting area, at which compost can be bought.
    A remark: There are guys opening waste bags in town and taking out the plastic bottles, apparently to make money on it.
    Another remark: We are separating our waste (garden refuse, cardboard, plastic bottles & packages and bottles), sadly every week I have to dump a car load on the dump.

    Reply
  8. Francois Du Rand

    Evening to the group.
    Please make every effort to be at the public meeting on 3rd of March engage on all matters regarding the Bontebok Landfill site.
    Don’t miss this opportunity.

    Reply
    1. Anthony Hunter

      Thanks Francois. Could you please speak to your MM with regards to his FB post. I know you are taking this seriously but none of us need a civil servant to make sarcastic comments on public platforms. His post has since been deleted.

      Reply
  9. Anthony Hunter

    I have just been made aware of a comment from our Municipal Manager, Anton Groenewald, where he makes reference to Swellendam’s “clean air”. This is a wonderful example of the type of people we are dealing with. The one “public servant” who should care, thinks it is all one big joke whilst people are being poisoned. I for one certainly hope the criminal case initiated by DEADP runs its full course. He along with those councilors who don’t care please for once do the honourable thing and resign. His post his since been deleted.

    Reply
  10. William

    With the dump having no management and falling to pieces, I wonder which other Municipal departments are perhaps going the same way.

    Reply
  11. Helen Roth

    I have been keeping up with this stream because my husband and I have felt that the Swellendam dump is a sad and dismal reflection of the municipal management of it. We are compelled to unload our own rubbish because of our location, and it is nightmarish stuff up there.
    I’m not a hot head, but doing what keep the municipal powers happy is not going to bring about the necessary changes either!
    How does the dump functioning measured up to the applicable/relevant legislation?
    The present dump improvement now while the issue is in the spotlight, will definitely remove the present symptoms, but are long term planning issues being addressed?
    The uncomfortable truth is that the managers are responsible for the functioning and activities at the dump, and you can’t get away from it.
    We as the public want to be kept up on all plans to manage and control the rubbish pickers (some sort of agreed arrangement and social service/policing intervention), control of entry and recycling ( that such a priority and should/could involve the rubbish pickers)
    I’m afraid sweet talk does not wash away the deterioration of the dump over the last few years, the money’s spent on infrastructure and buildings there which were not utilized, the lack of control and apparent monitoring on the dump!
    My pride of Swellendam as a historical site through which the tourists cruise turns more to shame, knowing the state of the dump just out of site.
    Recycling is the buzz word in the world! Why is Swellendam so lethargic about it?
    How the running and financing have been functioning need to be scrutinized to get some answers to inform future planning.
    These above issues should be non negotiable and if we are serious we need to get tougher at times.

    Reply
    1. Nancy

      Well said Helen. I totally agree that the financial planning needs scrutiny. They do claim a clean audit yearly which they are very proud of,and rightly so, but this must incorporate spending where it should be spent and waste management is a key part of that planning. Waste management is a human, global crisis today and 2020 is almost too late but a Good starting point to try to fix what has lagged behind. Each and everyone of us can make a start to fix the problem.

      Reply
  12. Nancy

    The new facility will serve multiple municipalities along the Garden Route and aims to stimulate the waste economy, create jobs and reduce the environmental impacts of waste management in the region.

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    Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, says approximately 500 temporary jobs as well as 60 permanent jobs will be created during the construction phase.

    “This facility will provide landfill space to the communities of Bitou, Knysna, George and Mossel Bay for the next 30 years and provision was also made to accommodate Hessequa and Oudtshoorn Municipalities in the future.”

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    Bredell says the project has always been one of the top priorities for the department in terms of waste disposal in the Western Cape.

    “South Africa has a serious waste problem. We are running out of landfill space everywhere and the increased cost and growing environmental issues is a problem that we must tackle head on before it is too late. This is why the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has been driving a process to establish nine big regional waste facilities that will provide various waste disposal options to the 25 local municipalities across the province.”

    The department and disctrict municipality underwent a full consultation process with communities and municipalities for more than 10 years, leading to today’s launch.

    “This project is an excellent example of what can be achieved if municipalities cooperate to provide a better service for all their communities,” says Bredell.

    The disposal of waste generated by communities and any related cost, is constitutionally mandated to be the responsibility of the relevant local municipality.

    “Given rapid population growth and urbanisation, the growing waste disposal problem is one that cannot be ignored. Programmes we run together with our municipalities include minimisation of waste, recycling and budgeting sufficiently for waste management. Efficiently-run municipalities remain key to delivering the services needed to make the province a better place for all who live in it. I am proud of our leaders in the Western Cape because they understand that they serve the communities of today and tomorrow.”

    Issued by WC Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning

    Reply
  13. Dani

    “Jenni read out a message from Lisa Perold describing the state of the illegal and unsecured Suurbraak dump including the fact that the waste includes veterinary waste, carcasses, and empty agricultural poison containers, and it is situated in a watershed. The thick oily leachate flows into the river and eventually into the Buffelsjagsrivier which in turn irrigates food/silage production.”

    Correcting preventing this would involve establishing who is dumping containers which held chemicals, and educating them as to the consequences of such actions. If such identification is not possible, then a “signboard” (with simple illustrations) detailing repercussions to such actions may assist.

    I think there is a guy in Swellendam Industrial area (opposite Ostriwell) who recycles such containers as well as cardboard boxes.

    To encourage (and to ensure correct separation of) recyclables, suitable (large) containers (with images of what should be placed in each) could be placed at various places (outside a school / in the municipal offices parking lot / in Suurbraak, behind the BP garage in Buffeljags (or in the Buffeljags village near the primary school / clinic). I have heard that recycling companies will donate such containers.

    Then, the question becomes, who will empty those (public) containers…

    Reply

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