DrakensteinCommunityActionGroup against YARA compost plant expansion & 24/7 hrs operation

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Our opening statement as follows:
Residents within Drakenstein Municipality remains a divided municipality, with a legacy from the past that manifests itself in grave and pressing socio-economic problems, infrastructure backlogs, ecological problems, and great disparities between the wealthy and the poor;

That addressing the problems and optimising the opportunities of Drakenstein can best be done by adopting the core principle of sustainability in all spheres of activity.

In addition to this, Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa enshrines the right to – the Environment – where everyone has the right;

1. To an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and

2. To have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that —

3. Prevent pollution and ecological degradation;

4. Promote conservation; and

5. Secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development. 

We, the Charleston Hill Action Group as members of the Paarl community, have a dire concern regarding the proximity of a fertilizer mixing plant in Paarl under the guise of providing agricultural services. 

We state Paarl but the effects of this fertilizer mixing plant are primarily felt by the residents of Charleston Hill and Elriché Estate, and secondary by the broader community of Paarl. 

Its proximity so close to residential areas is a massive bone of contention and as an example we would like to provide illustration below.    

See IMAGE LINK Figure 1 below
Figure 1
This above Figure 1 image: The above illustration provides evidence of the proximity of the plant to residential areas, schools, hospitals, rivers and ecological systems, and entrepreneurial activity. 

Visual evidence indicates that the fertilizer mixing company utilises digger loaders to mix and load the material into containers for truck distribution. Now, this alone should give you an idea that we are not referring to a small scale operation but that massive amounts of these chemical materials are mixed within the construct of the plant. 

This plant is not an enclosed, contained environment and we are sure that there is a high chemical pollutant content in the air when these chemicals are mixed. Evidently, it would be safe to assume that the residents are inhaling these airborne chemicals. 

Also, their operations continue during the course of the night (many a times a 24hour operation) and residents within close proximity complains about noise pollution emanating from the utilised machinery (also enormous banging drum noises throughout the night and obviously the multitude trucks) to the Drakenstein municipality without any solution to the problem.  

Charleston Hill is an area that had been created by the apartheid government for the historical segregation and the forced removal of black community members that had lived in Paarl West (west of the Berg River). Thus, the citizens of Elriché and Charleston Hill are already historically disadvantaged via unethical and illegal displacement, and now their health and the health of future generations are in jeopardy due to the location of a fertilizer mixing plant in the exact same area. Is this how the Drakenstein Local municipality is addressing restorative justice and redressing the imbalances of the past? 

It came into existence on this premises in 2004. During the initial stages, they were of the intent to establish a wet fertilizer plant, dry fertilizer mixing and a marketing department for Kynoch. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was done in a subversive way in that they requested members of the community to attend an open meeting at 10:00 to 15:00.

This was highly impractical for the members of the community to attend considering that the allocated time was during employment hours. Hardly any community members attended. Thereafter, affected business leaders and community members in the vicinity requested a public meeting during evening hours. It was well attended by all relevant parties.

However, the content of the meeting was highly technical and the jargon used was extremely difficult to process for proper understanding of the core business and the reason for their existence on the said premises.  After that meeting, affected business community members appointed an environmental lawyer to research and contest in court the establishment of a wet fertilizer plant on the premises.

The outcome of the court hearing was that a wet fertilizer plant could not be established on the premises. Currently, it is the mixing of dry fertilizer that is in operation. 

YARA wants to extend their plant.
Subsequently, the company on the premises apply to the Drakenstein Local Municipality for an extension in increased operations of the dry mixing plant almost every three to five years. In response to this the community members, especially of Charleston Hill, petition against this request.

Up to now, we have been relatively successful but our main concern is that the Drakenstein Local Municipality have never responded to any of our petitions. These petitions were formally submitted to the relevant department and the local councillor for Ward 22 was also informed regarding this. 

Feb 2016
In February 2016, the fertilizer company once again applied for the extension of the operation and also applied for a connecting road from the premises on to the busy Jan van Riebeeck Drive. This request is currently on the table of the Drakenstein Local Municipality.

The types of airborne chemicals that are emitted from this particular plant; 

  • Measured quantities of these chemicals;
  • How it relates to legal compliance;

The possible effects that these identified chemicals could have on:

  • Citizens (ranging in age) and all areas around the plant;
  • Educational and medical institutions within the radius of its proximity;
  • The staff working at the plant;
  • Entrepreneurial activity within designated radii of the plant;

The full chemical content of all the raw products used to create the final product;

The impact that these chemicals might have on the environment;

  • Fauna and flora within the radius of the fertilizer mixing plant;
  • The Hugo’s River to the north and the Berg River to the west;
  • The wetland situated on the northern side of the erf of the fertilizer plant;

Data contained in monthly ecological reports of the fertilizer company to the local municipality; 

  • Company responsible for the construction of the reports;
  • Validity of the content of the reports;
  • Processing of the reports by the Drakenstein Municipality;

Noise pollution and enormous amount of trucks:

  • We are faced with non-stop noise pollution Mon to Sun, round the clock business hours from Yara and an enormous amounts of trucks day in and out - and the worst is of course the noise levels in the early hours of the mornings being unbearable. 
  • The Yara plant have enormous amount trucks coming and going day in and out and on their peak days the trucks queues back to back causing a list of problems and frustrations.
  • Yara's round the clock business hours 7 days a week throughout the year have a complete disregard towards our constitutional rights as residents to experience peace and quite and to get a decent rest and not be bombarded by non-stop noise pollution and a 24/7 compost plant which will affect all our communities for generations to come. Enquire via email for our full list of complaints and issues. 

Yara applied to get access direct into Jan van Riebeeck Rd

  • This is irresponsible from Drakenstein Municipality to allows trucks into a highway and opposite a residential area.
  • We will be faced with even more non-stop noise pollution from trucks entering the high way.
  • Another big concern must be possible roads accidents as this highway is renowned for speeding and weekends this could becomes a danger zone.
  • Traffic congestion - Obviously massive bottle necks will be occuring.

Possible alternative location outside the residential boundaries of Paarl considering empirical data of the above. 

We, as members of the Paarl community, would like you to assist us in:

  1. PETITIONING THIS YARA PLANT EXTENSION. Yara applied to double or triple their compost plant production. Enquire via email to see their expansion plans and layouts.
  2. We are petitioning their current business operation noise pollution and their round the clock business hours 7 days a week - as this will have a huge impact on the livelihood of all our communities for generations to come.
  3.  Feel free to contact us for a complete list of all our issues at hand that we are petitioning. Follow our Facebook page as well for updates. Please feel free to join our monthly meetings as we extend an open invitation to all suburbs in Paarl and towns around Paarl to join our fight. Everyone welcome. As this affects all of us.

We intend to address this issue with different levels of government, social media, radio and television media, as well as businesses.  

We do hope that you will be able to assist us in PETITIONING so that we can create a solution to this clear and present problem. 

Yours faithfully

We care for our Paarl.
Join our fight.
Creating the living environment we deserve.