Monday, 27 March 2017

The Residents Plea for the South Durban Evacuation Plan

24 March 2017


Durban communities were again exposed to massive clouds of black smoke billowing from a fire at CWT Aquarius Shipping International in South Coast Road. The fire, which blazed unabated since Friday morning until the evening, was one of the biggest in the area in recent times, with smoke from the flames drifting as far as Ballito on the North Coast and could be seen from Umbumbulu in the South Coast because of strong winds. It brought the Albert Luthuli Highway to a standstill because of poor visibility and as a result of commuters parking along the freeway to get a better look at the huge clouds of smoke and take pictures.

It is believed that the building that caught alight was a warehouse that stored wax petroleum products, which could explain the strong chemical fumes in the air and residents and workers complaining of burning eyes, nausea and coughing. Petroleum wax and a range of chemicals are flooding through the Umhlatuzana River and into the Durban Harbour as a result of the fire.

Once again residents are asking for the proposed emergency evacuation plan promised by the eThekwini municipality for rollout during disasters such as today’s fire. The uncontrolled smoke and fire, like other similar potential disasters in the south Durban industrial basin, posed a serious risk to the health of people in the area, and the environment. The lack of a publicised and accessible evacuation plan is therefore of great concern. There have been repeated calls for an evacuation plan, especially after previous incidents on the same scale, such as the Island View Storage explosion on 18 September 2007, overwhelming smoke from the Engen refinery on 11 October 2006, a fire at the Engen refinery on 19 November 2007, and a fire at KZN Oil on 26 March 2015.

It also again raises the question of why local government continues to allow the placement of dirty toxic industries among communities and along residential roads. We have appealed to the Department of Labour, which has kept secret its findings and reports on such incidents,
to intervene. The recent gas leak, which killed three soldiers at Island View, contract workers and injured 24 people, was another example of dangerous infrastructure and hazardous plants in south Durban.

Surely it is time for the Mayor of Durban, Councillor Zandile Gumede, to treat this as urgent and act promptly in response to communities’ repeated appeals for justice. It is because of disasters such as this that south Durban residents are opposed to the Clairwood Racecourse being turned into a Logistics Park for the handling and storage of hazardous chemicals adjacent to residential neighbourhoods and are calling for such plans to be stopped immediately. Alternatives must be provided for industries that will provide jobs and a safe environment for people to live in.

We continue to call for strict monitoring and compliance measures to be put in place to keep chemical, petro chemical and hazardous industries under guard. We call on the Mayor and national government representatives to meet urgently with the affected communities within the next 14 days.

For more information please contact:
Desmond D’Sa
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) Coordinator
Tel: 031 4611991
Cell: 0839826939

No 2 John Dunn House 224 Gouritz Crescent Austerville, Durban 4052 +27 31-461-1991 South Durban Community Environmental Alliance The Right to Know | The Duty to Inquire | The Obligation to Act

Friday, 10 March 2017

Invitation to Cancer support group meetings

Invitation to Cancer support group meetings

The South Durban community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) will be hosting meeting to develop Cancer Support Group for the residents of south Durban - also known as ‘Cancer Valley’. These meetings will be in these three different communities: Wentworth, Merebank and Bluff. This disease is extremely on the rise in these communities. These communities are neighbours to two major oil refineries, big paper mill and a cluster of small chemical factories and industries.

The south Durban communities continue to find themselves: choking on noxious fumes, suffering pollution-related illness, and rapidly deteriorating neighbourhoods. This environment has such negative health impacts such as asthma, cancer and respiratory related diseases.

The objective of forming cancer support group is to help the sufferers and provide the necessary guidance and advice to those people about affected by this disease. Those  people affected directly and indirectly will need to be part of a support structure where they can share what they are going through and also get professional advice and assistance in the process.

These meetings are meant for cancer patients, cancer survivors, family, friends and caregivers. If you would like to be part of these cancer support group meetings please contact Thando Mbeje on 031 4611991 /

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Nuclear energy referendum

Nuclear energy referendum

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) hosted energy meetings at the M L Sultan St Marys Primary School Hall on the 2nd March 2017 and at the Austerville Community Hall on the 6th March 2017. The purpose of this meeting was to educate and mobilise community members on the proposed nuclear energy build as contemplated by the government and Eskom. Citizens need to understand that they have the power to refuse or accept nuclear energy fleet proposed to be built in South Africa. Sustainable energy should be the main focus in this country not unsustainable and dangerous energy.

The meeting was opened by Desmond D’Sa, SDCEA coordinator, who discussed the important of community unity against unsustainable developments. He then gave a report back of the Clairwood racecourse development that is currently been taken review to the high court in Durban. “This community has a history of environmental activism that has previously brought successful results such as the closure of Mondi trucks using residential roads. The communities of south Durban need to unite against this nuclear build as the proposal is to develop a fleet of these facilities along the South African coastline  and will pose an enormous danger to people and marine life .

D’Sa gave an update on the nuclear court case and feedback on the workshop he attended in Cape Town regarding the nuclear court case where Earthlife Africa and SAFCEI is challenging the SA government’s nuclear procurement process – a process which has been shrouded in secrecy and misinformation. He explained that the nuclear deal is very dangerous and is done in a very secretive manner; it is very expensive and will destroy our environment. SDCEA point of view is that we don’t need nuclear energy in South Africa; it will bankrupt this country and destroy the environment which the future generations will have to pay for.

Dr. Gerard Boyce (Economist in development studies) started off by expressing that ‘we the people have power’ and this power needs to be used very well especially against the nuclear energy in South Africa. The nuclear deal is presented in a very technical way, whereas there is also the financial and environmental side to it. This approach makes the citizens confused and view nuclear energy as a very complex and scientific thing. There is a lot of information that is not shared nor made available to the public.

People’s power can be gained by the use of a referendum. The public vote on the nuclear deal instead of the politicians making a decision. This is a very possible because other countries have also voted against nuclear energy. For example, in Austria, 1978 it started with less than a quarter of people in this room. Each of us can make a different.  Throughout the world its young people that have driven the nuclear referendum. According to Dr. Boyce ‘The referendum will benefit citizens by putting people back at the centre of politics, create greater openness and transparency in nuclear dealings. It will ensure increase in current levels of public participation and fostering of a culture of participatory democracy. To sum up, it will be a creation of an active and engaged citizenry.

Noluthando Mbeje (SDCEA environmental project officer) spoke about nuclear energy campaign and why communities should be part of this campaign. She started off by explaining the importance of education and access to information regarding this deal. SDCEA has been working with other organisations such as Earthlife Africa, SAFCEI and ground work to name a few. SDCEA has been active in fighting against proposed nuclear energy plans put into motion by the department of energy in 2011 through public education, community meetings and multiple protests.

SDCEA together with other organisations has been hosting meeting and bringing international speakers as far back as 2015. In September 2015 a meeting in M. L. Sultan St. Mary Primary School in Merebank, and in the Austerville Hall, Wentworth was held where a member of the Russian environmental group (Ecodefense) Vladimir Slivyak spoke about rumored nuclear dealings between South African government and his country. In October 2016 a meeting at the City of Love Ministry in Merebank, was held where an Indian activist, Mr. Vatakkayil Thazhe Padmanabhan a reputed epidemiologist who has many years of experience in environmental health issues and nuclear energy gave a talk on ‘How nuclear energy has affected the people of India socially, economically and physically’ and linked his talk to how nuclear energy will affect South Africa.

Communities have committed to be part of protests to highlight why we don’t need nuclear energy in South Africa. The SDCEA held an anti-nuclear energy picket outside the Durban City Hal on the 8th February 2017, outside the Department of Mineral Resources of the 14th December 2016 and several at the Eskom, Westville offices. A petition is currently being designed to vote against nuclear energy. According to Mbeje this is where citizens are supposed to showcase their power by putting down their signature on the petition.

Two concerns were brought forward at this meeting. The high electricity bills that pensioners have to pay and the estimation that lead to these high bills. The municipality doesn’t take meter readings on a monthly basis and only work on 3 months estimations. The other concern was on Eskom having too much electricity which has been proposed to be given to big users. This should not be allowed as it will be history repeating itself.

One of the greatest successes of having meetings of this nature is that people are brought together with a common purpose and fruitful engagement. Merebank, Wentworth, Bluff and Glenwood residents had positive suggestions and input such as:
·         Get well over 15 000 signatures on the petition
·         Universities need to do research on how many people have cancer in south Durban
·         Get youth involved
·         Choose one community and school to start up a renewable energy project one. Do one at a time.
·         Have more people educated and involved.
·         Improve our marketing system (including social media) as this is time for action
·         Do manual petitions for those people that don’t have computers and internet
·         Invite the Minister of Public Enterprise Ms. Lynn Brown, Energy minister Ms. Tina Joemat-Pettersson and local Treasury officials to a community meeting to engage with them on the energy issues affecting local communities.

These meetings were only the beginning of many ways to get nuclear energy out of South Africa. It was agreed that another meeting will be held in the next month as ongoing mobilisation in every corner of Durban. There was a commitment by those present to go out and mobilise for more people to be part of the nuclear campaign. The petitions can be collected at the SDCEA offices for people to sign and will be posted up on social media, blog and website.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Pollution problems - Please fill in online survey

Pollution Problems
Report Incidents, fill the
online survey and call
24/7 pollution hotline
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)
has requested that residents of south Durban complaining
about high levels of pollution in south Durban to report their
complaints to the pollution hotline 031-361 0000. 

The SDCEA Air Quality officer Mr. Bongani Mthembu
“When you have reported your complaint to the hotline
ask for a reference number, provide the number to the
SDCEA office on 031-461 1991 or email with a street address
and contact numbers. We will then follow up with a
letters and email to the relevant responsible authorities
and keep you on the loop. The 24-hour pollution hotline
is 031-361 0000/031-3113555. SDCEA has developed
an online Air Quality Survey for Schools and communities
to sign up . Link to Survey:

Friday, 21 October 2016

How nuclear radiation affects you!

Invitation: How nuclear radiation affects you!

Learning from India: How nuclear energy has affected the people of India socially, economically and physically.

by Mr. Vatakkayil Thazhe Padmanabhan

Date and Time: Wednesday 26th October 2016, 18h00-20h00
Venue: Love Ministries Church, 96 Rawalpindi Road, Merebank

Earthlife Africa Durban (ELA) and the South Durban Community Environment Alliance (SDCEA) will be hosting Mr. Vatakkayil Thazhe Padmanabhan a reputed epidemiologist who has many years of experience in environmental health issues. Mr. Vatakkayil Thazhe Padmanabhan will be touring the country during October, visiting communities, universities and environmental organisations. We are pleased to host him in Durban. 

The topics he covered in the past during his career includes ionizing radiation, chemical contamination like the Bhopal accident of 1984, safety problems of the proposed nuclear power plants and radioactive waste repositories. The genetic epidemiological study of children born to parents exposed to high natural background radiation in the coastal villages of Kerala during 1990-2000 revealed that the human genome can be impacted by an annual exposure of 7 milli-Sievert, which is less than the occupational dose of radiation workers. The Bhopal children study conducted by his is the first study to have revealed the hereditary effects of MIC exposure in Bhopal. He had visited and taken part in the research studies at major hot spots in India, Japan and Belarus. He has published in peer-reviewed journals like the Lancet, Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), International Journal of Health Services and the Economic and Political Weekly. All his papers can be accessed at:
The South African government has plans to build 6 – 8 nuclear power plants in South Africa. One of the sites they have identified for a possible nuclear power plant is the old Durban airport site. An agreement on strategic partnership and nuclear co-operation was signed between the SA government and the Russian Federation in 2014. This is part of a legal challenge that is brought by Earthlife Africa Joburg and SAFCEI. The court case will take place on the 13/14th December. This talk is part of a campaign to halt this agreement. The deal has been mired in secrecy and corruption. South Africans need to rise up and put a stop to this.

Contact: Alice Thomson (ELA) 031 465 9038/ 084 564 3891, Thando (SDCEA) 031 461 1991