NDLAMBE police are investigating alleged environmental crimes at a dump site near Bushmans River following a written warning issued to the municipality by the Green Scorpions.
Over the past two years rubbish has been burnt at the dump in contravention of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and the toxic smoke from the fires has made life miserable for Kenton-on-Sea residents.
Resident David Burr alerted the Environmental Affairs Department compliance and enforcement unit earlier this year after numerous letters to the municipality elicited little or no response.
Every time there was a fire at the dump Burr called the fire department, but he claimed they at first did not want to attend to fires in the dump site.
Eventually they did respond, but did not completely douse the fires. As a result the cinders continued to smoulder and emit smoke for hours.
"This smoke is poisonous, toxic and a health risk to me, my family and other residents,” he said.
Department officials visited the dump site in February with Ndlambe’s director of community protection services, Nombulelo Booysen-Willy.
Three months later department compliance and enforcement senior manager Div de Villiers sent a "notice of intention to issue a compliance notice” to the municipality.
They found a number of irregularities with the dump, among them that the dump site was not registered.
In his notice to the municipality, De Villiers listed the irregularities, which, among others, included that the municipality did not have the proper permits for the site, nor did it properly contain waste on the landfill.
De Villiers warned Booysen-Willy and municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni that "failure to comply with the conditions of an environmental authorisation” was an offence in terms of the NEMA, and the municipality could face a R5-million fine if found guilty.
But 13 days later, Burr reported another large fire at the dump.
He alerted De Villiers and also reported the matter to the police.
Yesterday Ndlambe cluster commander Colonel Vuyile Gcaba confirmed police were investigating, and would present the case to the director of public prosecutions (DPP).
Municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa said the site was in operation and the municipality was applying for a licence.