Emission licence causes a stink

Residents say theyve been suffering from sore throats, sinusitis and skin conditions since Cisco started operating 24 hours a day.

Kuils River residents are fuming because Cape Town Iron and Steelworks Company (Cisco) was given a permanent air emission licence.

However, while the licence was granted, Cisco has not been operating for the past two weeks, since Thursday September 19. This was heard at a community meeting last Wednesday September 25.

Community leader Earl Polman said despite requests to have the factory in Fabriek Street moved to another location or closed all together, the exposure to extreme noise and air pollution will continue to haunt residents. 

“There are big questions regarding this issue. How did the City of Cape Town allow this licence, especially Mayor Dan Plato, who knows what we are dealing with here,” he said.

He said residents would not give up hope and will continue to challenge the City in the fight to have the factory closed down.

“They don’t deem Kuils River people’s health as important, this is all about the money. On the other hand residents do not know the seriousness of being exposed to these emissions in the long run,” he said.

Earlier this year, at a meeting at the Kuils River council chambers, Mr Plato promised to find solutions to their grievances against Cisco (“Steely solution sought,” Northern News, April 17).

Cisco was established in the 1960s and operated under Murray and Roberts until 2010.

During the company’s shutdown period from 2010 to 2018, housing developments mushroomed in Kuils River, with some residents being as close as 70 metres from the steel plant.

In October 2012, the industrial plant was purchased by Turkish owners DHT Holdings, which continued trading as Cisco.

Residents say they’ve been suffering from sore throats, sinusitis and skin conditions since Cisco started operating for 24 hours a day.

On Monday September 23, Highbury resident Sidney van der Colf said a sore throat and stuffy nose has become the norm for him but said he will not accept that Cisco “robs him of the right to a healthy environment”.

Mr Van Der Colf said it was a pleasure to have no noise or bad smells affecting him and his family at the moment, but he is dreading the day Cisco is operational again.

Heinrich Kriel, Cisco’s general manager, said the company will be operating again in four to five weeks time after the completion of upgrades at the plant.

“We are aware that residents are up in arms because of the permanent licence but we were operating on a temporary one at the time in 2016, so it automatically became permanent this year because we are complying with the air emission licence (AEL) agreements,” he said.

The City’s spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo confirmed that a licence was granted to Cisco on Wednesday September 11.

He said officials from both the City and the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning supported the national department in undertaking a compliance inspection.

But the City did not, to date, receive a copy of the compliance report from national department. “The City thus undertook a further compliance inspection on August 23, which was supported by an official from the Western Cape Government, Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. The findings of this inspection found the facility compliant with the Provisional Atmospheric Emission Licence and hence an AEL was issued,” he explained.