Community members still face health issues after UPL warehouse explosion during July unrest – SABC News
A community leader at the informal settlement in Blackburn Village, near Umhlanga, north of Durban, said community members were still struggling with health issues after the United Phosphorus Limited warehouse fire. (UPL) during the unrest in July.
Testifying before the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Kwanele Msizazwe said neighboring communities were hit by air pollution when the wide variety of toxic chemicals in the warehouse caught fire .
Msizazwe said they did not receive any medical aid from the government or the UPL.
âWe still receive a lot of complaints from the community about health issues. So, we really don’t know where exactly we need to go. Because at the time it was still government departments, I thought we were going to get immediate help. So on my side, I think that’s it, âMsizazwe said.
Msizazwe said the majority of the residents of Blackburn village stood guard with the residents of Umhlanga to prevent looting during the unrest. He says most of them work for companies in the area.
âWe were not very involved in the looting, not all of them, but I can say that 80% of the village was not involved in it. Because we were even involved in the street, I forget the name now, but every night we stood near the entrance which comes from Cornubia, the other people stood on the other side of Umzinga with the locals Umhlanga, âMsizazwe explains. .
Overwhelming findings against UPL
Meanwhile, Cornubia Fire civil society action groups say the UPL failed to comply with provincial and national environmental regulations when it built its warehouse in Cornubia, near Umhlanga.
Rajen Naidoo testified on behalf of the group prior to the SAHRC hearing. The UPL warehouse – which kept dangerous chemicals – was set on fire during the unrest, spilling chemicals into the Umdloti River.
The commission also learned that people living nearby had never been warned of the dangers of the spill, which would have had effects on health.
âWhen UPL set up their warehouse, what were the parameters that they put in place? Did they follow all necessary local and national regulations, we argue that they did not. This is why we have the consequences that followed. The only information that was circulating was a few press releases that were made. We depended on the media. But above all, the company did not provide any information, âexplains Naidoo.
Publication of the joint preliminary report on UPL compliance: Barbara Creecy