Steel mill in Cape Town ordered to comply with air quality regulations

Kamal-CISCO told to cease operations and meet conditions of emissions licence

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A photograph of emissions from the Kamal-CISCO steel mill in Kuils River taken on 25 April 2023. Photo supplied

  • The City of Cape Town instructed Kamal-CISCO steel mill in Kuils River to cease operations in November.
  • Following a compliance notice issued in December, the company has until 28 February to comply with the conditions of their emissions licence.
  • While welcoming the latest development, the ratepayers’ association says they have been complaining for years.

After years of complaints from Kuils River residents, the City of Cape Town has enforced the conditions of an Atmospheric Emissions Licence (AEL) granted to the Kamal-CISCO steel mill and ordered management to cease operations.

According to City media liaison officer Jan Kruger, the CISCO steel mill was on 21 November ordered to cease operation in line with obligations under the National Environmental Management Act after complaints about the factory’s emissions.

This takes effect until the cause of the emissions is determined and reported, said Kruger.

The order to cease operations came after a photo by a Kuils River resident captured on Friday 17 November (see photo above) showed plumes of gas and smoke from the mill’s emission stacks. A complaint was lodged by a member of the public on that weekend, said Kruger.

According to industry standards, emissions visible to the naked eye contain particles larger than 50 microns. Thus these, and smaller particles, were not being captured in what is known as baghouses, which are meant to capture toxic dust before the emissions are released into the atmosphere.

Kruger said initial investigations took place on Monday 20 November, with the order to cease operations until the cause of the emissions could be established, given on 21 November.

A further investigation by the City Environmental Health Inspector on 29 November established CISCO had failed to comply with conditions contained in the AEL. “These included administrative provisions as well as conditions regulating emissions to the atmosphere”, said Kruger.

He said a compliance notice was then issued on 22 December. CISCO has until 28 February to fully comply.

“It’s a huge relief to the Kuils River community that the City has now finally decided to enforce compliance with air quality regulations, as we’ve been suffering for years now,” said Earl Polman, of the Vredelust Ratepayers’ Association.

But Polman questioned why the City had only acted now, after the Mayco Member for Community Service and Health Patricia van der Ross claimed in April that CISCO was “in full compliance with the prescribed emission limits”.

“What suddenly changed that prompted the City to act now? We don’t know, but we don’t believe the steel mill is suitably situated - so close to a residential community,” said Polman.

He also said the AEL was “riddled with irregularities” which had been pointed out to the City. He said Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) requests had been made in this regard, but the information supplied was edited and redacted.

This prevented “anyone from seeing what is really behind this AEL”.

When asked for comment, CISCO safety and health manager Jacqueline Jansen Van Vuuren referred all questions to the City of Cape Town.

TOPICS:  Environment

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