The Managing Director of Engen, Yusa Hassan, says they are in the process of verifying claims of those affected by a blast at the petroleum refinery in the south of Durban, last week.
Hassan was part of a delegation that briefed Parliament’s Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the latest developments.
It has been reported that seven people were hospitalised with light injuries and people from nearby flats relocated to temporary accommodation:
Engen says the investigation into what caused the fire at its Durban South refinery, is still under way. Hassan told Members of Parliament that at this point no decision has been made with regard to compensation for affected community members.
“We are in the process of verifying and assessing claims. It will take appropriate actions based on verification. Just to mention, we proactively organised accommodation to six families, on a goodwill basis, to emphasise care for the community.”
However, representatives from two Non-Governmental Organisations say last week’s blast has left the surrounding community shaken. Bobby Peek from Groundwork and Desmond D’sa from the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance told MPs of their experiences.
“Engen has been exploding since it started, making communities sick, giving us jobs that ultimately just kill us. We are going to be left with only the toxic legacy when they leave. As they said, they are getting out, and leave us with a toxic time bomb,” said Peek.
According to D’sa, Engen is denying everything. “Nothing is alright. Food, homes, furniture, curtains have been damaged. Who is going to take care of it?”
The chairperson of the committee, Fikile Xasa, has called for more engagement with the community. “Agreement that social interaction has not gone the best way, intervention at the highest level. Municipal, provincial, and national departments, we should be getting feedback from you. But we have taken note of us going to Durban, despite COVID-19 and Parly in recess.”
Some environmental rights groups, including groundWork, have been calling for the refinery to shut down for a while now, citing concerns of the health risk it poses to communities in surrounding areas.
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