Sappi Saiccor pulp mill pollution, South Africa

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">The Sappi Saiccor mill is situated next to the Mkhomazi River a short distance upstream from the coastal town of Umkomaas in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none"> The mill takes fresh water from the Mkhomazi river and uses energy derived from dirty coal to convert wood fibre from mostly alien Eucalyptus tree plantations into cellulose for export markets. <br/><br/> However it also generates much atmospheric pollution which spreads into surrounding community areas. Liquid effluent is pumped out to sea, and solid waste in the form of ash and sludge is dumped onto farmland in the vicinity of the mill. <br/><br/> Over the years there have been incidents of poisoning of workers and children due to the accidental release of toxic gases. People in surrounding communities complain of illness due to the polluted air and dust they are exposed to on a daily basis. <br/><br/> Unfortunately Sappi Saiccor has chosen to continue expanding its production capacity despite numerous promises that it would clean up its act. <br/><br/> Sappi Saiccor is at present (May 2012) trying to obtain an integrated waste management permit that if granted will likely rubberstamp its existing waste dumping and pollution of air and water. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Sappi Saiccor pulp mill pollution, South Africa</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/south-africa">South Africa</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>KwaZulu-Natal</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Umkomaas</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Waste Management</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites<br /> Chemical industries<br /> Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/cellulose'>Cellulose</a><br /><a href='/commodity/water'>Water</a><br /></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns">The Sappi Saiccor mill has the capacity to produce 800 000 tonnes of chemical cellulose per annum. <br/><br/></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Semi-urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>more</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>1960</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/sappi-saiccor'>Sappi Saiccor</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/south-africa'><small>South Africa</small></a> - <small> Also known as Sappi Chemical Cellulose (South Africa, Hong Kong)</small></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Water, Department of Environment, Industrial Development Corporation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">International and Financial Institutions</td><td><a href='/institution/forest-stewardship-council'>Forest Stewardship Council <small>(FSC)</small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Durban Community Environment Alliance (SDCEA), Timberwatch Coalition, Newhaven Ratepayers and Anti-pollution Watchdog Committee</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>LOW (some local organising)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>UNKNOWN</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Fishermen<br /> Local ejos<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Creation of alternative reports/knowledge<br /> Development of a network/collective action<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Community meetings to raise concerns. Petitions, newspaper reports. Letters of complaint.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Desertification/Drought, Fires, Oil spills</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>The Sappi Saiccor mill affects fish in the Mkhomazi river and marine life in the Indian Ocean where much of the mill effluent is dumped via a 6,5 km long pipeline. </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths, Other environmental related diseases<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>The waste substances from the mill are disposed of in an irresponsible manner which resulits in air and water contamination through dust and leachate, that affect human health.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>The overbearing presence of the mill and its polluting activities has created negative perceptions of the area and has certainly discouraged investment in local towns and villages affected by this.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area<br /> Negotiated alternative solution<br /> New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study<br /> The Sappi Saiccor mill could be decommissioned and replaced by an ecotourism industry.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>Most local people wish that the existing legislation could be properly enforced, and that the mill would then stop polluting the area.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>No</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>Despite the bad publicity caused by the pollution and incidents of poisoning from accidents at the mill, Sappi Saiccor continues to pollute with impunity. Local peoples anger and unhappiness with the situation has been effectively neutralised by appeasement strategies used by the pulp mill to reduce opposition within the community. Small donations made by the company to local schools and community organisations have seemingly bought their silence. </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> National Environmental Management Act.<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Water Act<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Air Quality Act<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Waste Management Act<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> <a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> South Africa: Sappi Saiccor to expand its polluting pulp mill?<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Media Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> </p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Comments</td><td>The closure of the Sappi Saiccor mill would represent an opportunity to re-invent the local economy of the area, creating many more jobs and restoring the health of the environment.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Wally Menne</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>24/06/2014</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>