17 Noember 2015 – Garstkloof Dumping Site – We need your participation
Tshwane Metro’s planned Composting and Recycling Plant – COMMUNICATION 2:
CONTINUED USE OF THE GARSTKLOOF SOLID WASTE DUMP SITE
Thank you to the approximately 90 community members who responded to the previous communication. This however represents only 10% of Wingate Park’s residents, not to mention Elardus Park.
To influence the Tshwane Metro’s planned process, more support is urgently required!
RHEV’s research has discovered a couple of theses that deal with this project in particular and specifically mention Garstkloof. The analysis below gives a very good explanation of why we as a community need to influence the currently planned Composting and Recycling Plant on this site. Apart from the obvious security risks, mess and other implications of a “recycling plant”, the composting plant alone will have the following potential impact:
- Continuous noise from heavy equipment
- Large amounts of dust with bacterial and fungal contents
- Microorganisms that are released into the air and can be inhaled to great human detriment
- Air pollution from gasses that are released into the air
- Scarring of the landscape
- Pests and plagues
- Pollution of groundwater
Please read the accompanying communication and PLEASE register as an interested and affected party.
To register, please click on the following link, fill in the subsequent email and send. SEND REGISTRATION FORM or complete the form below:
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POTENTIAL IMPACT OF A COMPOSTING PLANT
The published “Background Information Document (BID)” does not provide any details about the project, except to refer to it as a “Composting Site” and a “Recycling Station”. Interesting theses on the feasibility of composting plants on Tshwane Metro’s solid waste sites were obtained and they provide good insight into what can be expected. No further information about the so-called “Recycling Station” could be obtained.
Apart from the continuous noise of trucks coming and going, there is additional equipment involved at composting plants, such as hammer mills, shredders, grinders, turners and front-end loaders. In international guidelines, noise is identified as a great potential disturbance for surrounding areas. The photos show typical examples of machines that were used at a site in Roodepoort:
The photos above clearly show that the equipment involved is not only responsible for noise, but can contribute to serious dust pollution. As opposed to normal dust, compost dust also contains bacteria and fungi that pose a health risk.
C) BIO AEROSOLS
Bio aerosols are suspended particles in the air that consist of microorganisms that can be inhaled. In particular, these affect people with weakened systems and can lead to many illnesses.
D) AIR POLLUTION
Composting is the decomposition of complex organic structures and a variety of gases can be produced in the process. At a small household level, it is usually of no consequence; however, we all know what unpleasant odours can result. In large industrial plants, one needs to proceed on the basis of expertise and consultation and the prevailing weather conditions, temperature and moisture content need to be carefully considered. Thoroughly trained and responsible people must ensure that sites are operated as required. Despite many promises, we all know what happened during the operation of the Garstkloof site and how we all too often had to hold our noses. At composting plants, the potential for problems is much greater.
E) VISUAL IMPACT
Various technologies are available, but in the theses, the so-called “open windrows” are accepted as the most appropriate technology. The photo below shows how it will look, except that it will be orders of magnitude greater for the Garstkloof site: A moonscape scene such as this may be acceptable in an industrial area, but definitely not in the middle of what is supposed to be the Garstkloof Nature Area. In international guidelines, composting plants are not allowed in nature and conservation areas.
F) Pests and other unwanted plagues
Mice, rats, flies and mosquitos are regularly attracted to composting plants due to the shelter and food they provide. In one of the theses, the use of cats is recommended to control the plagues of rats and mice.
G) WATER POLLUTION
Water pollution is a serious problem at composting plants. The underlying geology of the Garstkloof site is dolomite which is an important water carrier. According to international guidelines, composting plants should not be allowed in such areas.
SOCIAL ASPECTS AND MISPERCEPTIONS
It can be readily accepted that composting plants will probably play an important role in dealing with solid waste in future, but there are associated risks and the placement thereof is strictly managed internationally. The placement in the middle of suburban areas and particularly in an area that has been earmarked as a nature area, is unacceptable. If you, as a neighbouring resident, feel that it can’t be that bad, rest assured that all these risks are emphasised as realities in the two theses, as well as in the “South African National Organic Waste Composting Strategy (Draft Guideline)”. The theses give useful insights, but are unfortunately naïve about the background and problems that have been part of the operation of the Garstkloof site. In both theses, Garstkloof is indicated as a number 1 site for composting. It is simply assumed that because the site is there, waste disposal activities may continue. One of the theses puts it as follows:
“The most important social aspect is that surrounding landowners are used to the waste disposal activities”
“The fact that the landfill site as unwanted element is already established will support the process, since the composting facility does not have the same detrimental effect on its surroundings. None of the selected landfill sites have the required Monitoring Committee (driven by the surrounding landowners) in place, which could mean that there is not an active opposing community adjacent to the landfill site”
It is also important to note that alternative sites are indeed suggested in the theses. Some of these sites are in less sensitive areas and can also better achieve the goal of job creation. As a community, we are entitled to be sceptical towards high risk projects and insist that other, possibly more appropriate solutions are properly considered. If something goes wrong, this community will pay the price. It is particularly interesting that the photos in this communication are of a site that was held up as a model example, but has since been closed because it was apparently not sustainable!
A question that might be asked is whether a compromise may not be reached by establishing a composting plant in a sensitive way and also meet the community’s need for green activities, such as sports facilities and the expansion of the Garstkloof Nature Area? As things stand now: No! It is not mentioned in the BID. The perception is that the surrounding neighbourhoods are used to waste disposal activities and no opposition to the proposed plant is expected. The creation of green community activities as part of continued usage is clearly not on the agenda. The only way it will become part of the agenda is through continued pressure from the community.
RENEWED CALL TO REGISTER AS AN “I&AP”
We trust that this information will motivate you to add your voice of protest to the action. The community is entitled to insist that all possibilities are investigated and that a composting plant on the Garstkloof site is not just a cheap and convenient option. Because this email will not necessarily reach all residents, you are requested to discuss the matter with all your neighbours and acquaintances in Wingate Park, and surrounding areas that may be affected, and encourage them to become involved in the public participation process.
Thank you in anticipation!