The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs, Barbara Creecy, and her Department are dragging their feet in taking the necessary steps to address the severe environmental damage caused by thousands of burning tyres at a tyre-storage facility in Biesiesvlei in North West.
This is evident in her reply to a question from the FF Plus in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
The fire at the facility, which started in July due to a veld fire, occurred after the FF Plus had warned the Minister in May this year about the serious environmental risk posed by the plant to the ecologically sensitive agricultural area.
It is apparent from an earlier reply by the Minister that North West’s provincial government also did not deem it necessary to conduct an environmental impact study before establishing the plant there.
Creecy is evasive in her reply on the matter, and she makes no mention of any specific steps to be taken or of any persons who will be held accountable for the severe environmental damage.
She does, however, attempt to exonerate the plant by stating that the incident was the result of a veld fire and that the fire did not start on the storage facility premises.
The Minister further stated that a tender has been awarded to a company tasked with cleaning up the premises – three months after the fire. No projected date of completion of the clean-up was provided.
The FF Plus pointed out earlier that the area should be cleaned up as soon as possible because the rainy season is at hand.
The heaps of ash from the burnt-out tyres contain large quantities of harmful chemicals which will end up in the groundwater with heavy rains, thus further polluting the area.
The ANC government’s disgraceful inaction is all the more shocking seeing as its earlier failure to act has already resulted in severe smoke and soot pollution in the area.
The people of North West deserve better than the ANC.