Green Scorpions in sting operation

Green Scorpions are out to ensure major
construction projects comply with
environmental regulations.

Rejoice Mabudafhasi is the deputy minister
of Environmental Affairs.
(Images: Bongani Nkosi)

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• Moses Randitsheni
Spokesperson
EMI
+27 82 448 2450
 
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Bongani Nkosi

South Africa’s Green Scorpions, also called the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI), are out in full force to ensure major construction projects comply with environmental regulations.

After taking their campaign to the Eastern Cape, they hit Limpopo province on 6 December 2010 for a week-long inspection of Eskom projects. They are examining compliance at Medupi power station and the Spitskop substation.

Medupi power station is one of the biggest construction projects currently on the go in the country. Power utility Eskom is building a coal-fired power plant there that must be operational by 2012 to boost much-needed national electricity supply.

The inspections are part of the National Environmental Law Compliance Campaign of the Department of Environmental Affairs. The Green Scorpions have already inspected sites in Free State and KwaZulu-Natal as part of the drive.

KwaZulu-Natal’s operation took place in October and included an inspection of Transnet’s 555km-long multi-product pipeline that runs from Durban to Jameson Park in Gauteng. The Green Scorpions found the construction to be progressing well in terms of environmental compliance.

“The main objectives of the campaign are to monitor adherence to conditions stipulated in environmental authorisations, environmental management plans and waste management licences, as well as to improve the general status of compliance within the regulated community …” said spokesperson Moses Randitsheni in a statement.

The Department of Environmental Affairs will take “appropriate enforcement actions in the event of non-compliance”, he said.

The installation of Neotel’s fibre-optic cable that runs from Germiston in Gauteng to Cato Ridge in KwaZulu-Natal will also be examined during the week of 6 December. The cable, which runs via Mpumalanga and the Free State provinces, is one of the initiatives to improve broadband coverage in South Africa.

Non-compliance busted

The Eastern Cape leg of the campaign in October and November uncovered environment violations in some projects, although most were found to be compliant.

Waste management company EnviroServ was found to have constructed and subsequently operated a storm water dam and a leachate treatment plant at a landfill site without obtaining a required environmental permit. It has also failed to implement recommendations made in an external audit report, according to the department.

“All non-compliances detected during the inspections are currently being reviewed and will be met with appropriate enforcement action where necessary,” said Randitsheni.

Overall compliance is satisfactory at the deepening of the car terminal berth at Transnet’s East London Port – a project that was completed in November.

The Green Scorpions noted, however, that the required water-quality comparison data for the estuary was still outstanding and the management of the dredged materials stockpile on site was inadequate, the department said.

No major non-compliances were uncovered at Transnet’s projects at the 11 000ha Coega Industrial Development Zone in Port Elizabeth. The projects include the construction of a port control building, two additional berths at the container terminals and an administrative craft basin.

Likewise, there were no major violations at the South African National Biodiversity Institute Working for Wetlands projects in the Eastern Cape, which involve the rehabilitation of degraded wetlands in the Hogsback and Tsitsikamma regions. The projects began recently.

“Inspections at other sites found that construction had been completed or is proceeding at generally acceptable standards which are in compliance with the environmental legislations,” Randitsheni said.