UPL to make a submission to SAHRC inquiry on July unrest

UPL to make a submission to SAHRC inquiry on July unrest
© Provided by Daily News

DURBAN – UPL South Africa will be making a written submission to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) inquiry into the July unrest.

This follows testimony last week by University of KwaZulu-Natal Professor Rajen Naidoo and Blackburn Village community member Kwanele Msizazwe on the chemical spill from UPL’s leased Cornubia warehouse that followed an alleged arson attack amid the July unrest.

UPL South Africa spokesperson Japhet Ncube said that the company had not been invited to the SAHRC to respond to submissions.

“UPL was inexplicably not invited to provide evidence during the hearing and therefore was not given an opportunity to respond to statements made by University of KwaZulu-Natal Professor Rajen Naidoo and Blackburn Village community member Kwanele Msizazwe, many of which were false, misleading or inaccurate,” he said.

Ncube added that UPL sought expert opinion in terms of its compliance with the relevant legislation and contested the findings of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s preliminary report, and would respond in the appropriate forum.

“However, it stands by the fact that no level of compliance would have prevented the spill that resulted from the arson attack on July 12 and the inability of law enforcement, emergency services and private spills teams to respond to the incident timeously, due to the breakdown of law and order in the area.”

Ncube said that UPL had done everything possible to mitigate the impact of the chemical spill in the area.

“This includes spending R297 million on clean-up and rehabilitation operations. It is pleased that these extensive efforts are showing success with signs of new vegetation growing and wildlife returning to the area surrounding the site.”

Ncube added that UPL had continued to work with the relevant authorities.

“UPL has also continued to monitor the impact of the spill on human health in surrounding communities and remains committed to working with the eThekwini Department of Health to address any health concerns held by members of the Blackburn community that relate directly to the arson attack and spill. UPL cannot, however, be expected to fill the service delivery vacuum left by years of neglect of this community by local authorities.”

In his testimony, Naidoo, who is a member of the UPL Cornubia Fire Civil Society Action Group, said the fire and chemical spillage directly affected the environment around the warehouse, and also affected human health.

“The impact on the environment also has consequences on people who may live off that environment, for example fisher folk who do subsistence fishing in the water around the area.

“Those things had to stop, so it affects livelihoods.”

THE MERCURY

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