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Bo-Kaap residents oppose industrial refinery

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As attempts to alter the landscape of the Bo-Kaap area continues, a recent development within the area has residents concerned for their physical well-being. In recent months, residents have witnessed an increase in air pollution emitting from a newly established gold refinery in Jordaan Street. This week, the Bokaap Civic and Rate Payers Association and residents met with the company that owns the refinery, Lueven Metals (Pty), in order to voice their concerns and have the matter clarified.

Neighbour to Lueven Metals and the secretary of the Civic and Rate Payers Association, Fouzia Achmat explains that the old printing factory in Jordan Street in was purchased by OroAfrica approximately 17 years ago. She says that the company is now renting an adjoining property, which it purchased in 2015, to Lueven Metals.

Lueven Metals subsequently used the property into a gold refinery; refining scrap jewellery and “old” gold.
Achmat further notes that in February of this year, the company was required to conduct scoping documents, which she confirmed was completed, and air quality control inspections.

She says that while the association was able to obtain a copy of the document, the lengthy technical explanations contained within the document meant that those inspecting the document were unable to fully grasp what the document means.

Given the continued release of pollutants, Achmat says that all residents may be impacted by the emissions, asserting that impact is not isolated to the neighbours who reside in close proximity to the refinery.

“Being a neighbour [I am witness to] so much noise pollution and emissions. On hot days you cannot open the window and you can see a hazy smoke coming from the chimney.”

With a gold refinery, many substances are emitted, for that reason we are saying that we cannot have the refinery here,” Achmat said.

Speaking to VOC, Lueven Metals confirmed that the company has appointed air quality control specialists to inspect the emissions of the refinery and noted that it met with community members on July 19, 2016.
The company further indicated that it does not feel it necessary to enter into any further discussions nor debates.

In response to Lueven Metals’ assertion, Achmat explains that the Civic and Rate Payers Association called the public meeting and invited the Resource Management Services consultancy firm that was hired by the company to conduct the air quality inspections.

“It was not their meeting. We contacted RMF to give us an explanation of the documentation in lay person’s terms and told the consultancy that they are here to give us information.”

Achmat affirmed that within the proceedings, the Civic and Rate Payers Association was granted an extension until the August 25, 2016, to study the scoping documents.

While the consultancy firm has until July 25, 2016, to submit its report, Achmat says that community members are unsatisfied with the process and confirmed that residents will be taking the matter further.

“We don’t understand the terminology that is why it took us so long. But then we discovered that there is a government department in charge of dealing with environmental concerns that indicated to us that we must not be questioning Lueven Metals. Instead we must be questioning RMF Consulting.”

“We request the assistance of anyone who understands the technicalities and who can assist us with understanding the document,” Achmat continued.

The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral committee member for health Siyabulela Mamkeli said his department had received an application from Leuven Metals. However, the company would need to apply for an atmospheric emission licence from the City’s Air Quality Management Unit. VOC

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