Mooted metal refinery raises residents’ anger

Residents and businesses are concerned about a potential refinery in the area because children walk down Bryant Street to school.

Toxic emissions – of any kind – shouldn’t be allowed in a residential area.

These were the thoughts of interested and affected parties who have been notified about Leuvren Metals’ plans to apply for an emissions license.

The City, however, said no such application has yet been made.

“The City’s Air Quality Management Unit can confirm that, to date, no formal application for an atmospheric emission licence has been received from Leuven Metals,” said Siyabulela Mamkeli, the City’s mayco member for health.

“Our inspections have also revealed that no precious metal refining operations are currently being undertaken by Leuvren Metals on the site.”

Residents and businesses in the area have raised concerns about health and safety, saying that the fact that they even have to apply for a toxic emissions license is alarming.

In April, the City of Cape Town confirmed that Leuvren Metals had applied for a licence for their facility in Buitengracht Street (“Jewellery refinery in Bo-Kaap raises health concerns”, Atlantic Sun, April 7).

Osman Shaboodien, chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ association, confirmed that the civic had objected to the licence due to health concerns.

Mr Shaboodien added that even though the area was zoned for commercial businesses, the zoning schemes were outdated.

“Once again outdated apartheid zoning allows industrial activity in residential area. We are going through the process first if the City approves the application we have no option to look at other means of action,” he said.

Another objector is The Brave Foundation. Radha Robyne, said the non-profit organisation is based on Bryant Street, just down the road from the proposed site for the refinery.

She said the organisation helped survivors of serious physical trauma. Very often, said Ms Robyne, her patients suffered from breathing problems. “We help people who have suffered from car accidents, stroke, cancer and other physical challenges. Patients come to us for therapy. We shouldn’t even allow the concept of toxic emissions in a residential area. The fact there is a school (St Paul’s Primary) down the road from it and children walk past it is mind boggling.”

Larry Eichstadt, of Resource Management Company, who spoke on behalf of Leuvren Metals, said the commencement of operations on the site was dependant on the status of their licence. He also confirmed their application was at the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) stage.

According to the company’s report, Leuvren Metals wants to buy scrap jewellery and “old” gold to refine the precious metal and sell the products locally as well as export the raw material. According to the report, “the resultant nitrous oxide gas from the process will be collected, extracted and discharged via a double fume scrubber located outside and behind the building but within the internal courtyard area of the premises.”

When the CapeTowner asked Mr Eichstadt to comment on the health concerns raised by residents, we were referred to the company’s air quality report which states: “Pollutant that would be released by Lueven Metals operation that could likely impact human health include the following criteria pollutant: NO2. However, simulated worst-case scenario concentrations are well within the National Framework for Air Quality Management in the Republic of South Africa (NAAQS) both in the short and long term.

“No-criteria pollutant released by Luevren Metals’ operation that would likely impact on human health include the following: HCl.

“However, the simulated worst-case concentrations are well within the relevant reference health screening criteria both in the short and long term.

“It should be taken into account that the simulation was based on the assumption that the site would operate 24/7. In reality the site will only be operating four hours per day during weekdays. Therefore, the annual co centrations are anticipated to be lower than the conservative estimates and the simulated worst-case concentrations are well within the relevant health screening criteria.”