'Polluters must pay' says South Africa

Organisations found to be contaminating land in South Africa will be 'pursued without fear', the government has announced.

Plans for the proposed Remediation of Contaminated Land Act were unveiled by the country's minister for water and environmental affairs, Buyelwa Sinjica, at a waste management conference in Pretoria, last week.

Although a firm timeline for the Act's implementation, or a scale for which remediation would be decided remain unconfirmed, minister Sinjica said action was imminent.

She told delegates: "We have taken the view that the cost of reducing pollution must be shared between people who are responsible for waste; the polluters.

"I will soon be able to identify contaminated land and order investigations to determine the extent of contamination as well as the form of remediation required."

Amid plans for the Act is the formation of a database of all contaminated sites in the country, which would be linked to the existing deeds register.

Minister Sinjica claimed the database would ensure that land transfers take into account information relating to contamination, saying the Act: "requires every citizen and every entity to observe the duty of care principle."

But while the remediation proposals focus on private enterprise, minister Sinjica made further announcements during the conference to highlight the government's burgeoning commitment to environmental sustainability.

As a nation which generates over 40 million tonnes of waste per year, Ms Sinjica said, South Africa has an opportunity to provide more recycling options to create jobs and boost economic development.

"We cannot continue on this trajectory as a 'throw-away' society," she said. "We need a paradigm shift that upholds and cherishes the age-old values that cleanliness is next to Godliness.

"The green economy challenges us all to be innovative and entrepreneurial. It allows us to create jobs in a manner that involves our communities as well as SMMEs in the waste management solutions that we can develop."

Luke Walsh


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