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Air pollution now monitored around silos

City authorities continue to closely monitor demolition work at Lafarge cement silos in Kraaifontein Industria, after extensive dust pollution was reported over recent weeks.

Health inspectors were called out and operations subsequently shut down temporarily, last week.

Exposure to cement dust irritates the eyes, nose, throat and upper respiratory system and skin, according to The South African Builder; and the mineral silica dust found in concrete is listed as a cancer-causing agent by the Cancer Association of South Africa.

Thick clouds of fine cement dust were first noted in the air over Kraaifontein in the first week of July.

Strong north westerly winds carried the plumes over the industrial area and into nearby residential areas.

“Old cement was being emptied from the bottom of the silos, without any means of dust control. We were informed that the company is emptying the silos to break them down as the land was sold,” says a business owner in the area, who does not want his name mentioned.

“The wind drove big clouds of dust into the atmosphere above the area. Dust settled down into our yard and it was so thick, we could not work and had to leave the premises.

“We were literally choking in dust which settled in thick layers in the workshops and on all the trees. Our eyes were burning and I was worried about health consequences,” he says.

The City’s air quality management unit was alerted and inspected the site on Monday 6 July.

Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for community services and health, says excessive cement dust was observed being emitted into the atmosphere, at this time.

A notice of intention was drafted and issued on Lafarge on 10 July 2020. The complainant was informed of these actions and the demolition work was temporarily suspended, according to Badroodien.

“The pre-notice advised Lafarge of their contravention of the City’s air quality management bylaw of 2016, and of the intention to issue a notice that would direct Lafarge to immediately cease all demolition activities to abate the air pollution nuisance and take all necessary steps to prevent the recurrence thereof,” says Badroodien.

In terms of the notice Lafarge was instructed to identify all the possible sources of dust pollution and to provide the City with a detailed dust management plan.

However, on 15 July, plumes of dust were again being emitted from the silos.

By Friday 24 July, the silos were emptied, according to neighbouring tenants.

Despite several attempts by TygerBurger over the last two weeks to obtain comment from Lafarge at their Cape Town and Gauteng offices, none had been received by time of going to print.

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