Category: <span>Municipal Health</span>

Environmental Health Practitioners continue to sensitise Garden Routers of a rise in COVID-19 infections

Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners continue to sensitise Garden Routers of a rise in COVID-19 infections

For immediate release
18 June 2021

With the sharp spike in Covid-19 positive cases over the past few weeks, Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) play a pivotal role in ensuring that infection rates decrease. To address the issue, the various EHPs of GRDM implemented strict measures to ensure that the health of the residents in the area is protected.

Environmental Health Practitioners together with Officers from the South African Police Service during an operation in the Knysna and surrounding areas.

According to recent reports received from the Executive Manager for Community Services at GRDM, Clive Africa, the district’s respective Municipal Health sections implemented various measures in their attempt to stabilise the Covid-19 cases. Among these measures are the continuous discussions with local municipalities and other stakeholders to intensify activities in the district. Key performance areas relevant to the pandemic were therefore the focal point. The focus now is primarily on house visits, contact tracing of newly reported cases, health and hygiene awareness interventions at identified premises, and health surveillance of premises and collaborative blitzes at spaza shops.

During the last few weeks, more awareness sessions were conducted in residential areas of the district in collaboration with health care workers and officials from the Provincial Hospitals. It was established that some of the churches were not Covid-19 compliant, more specifically in the Mossel Bay area – where no social distancing, no wearing of masks and too many people were allowed to attend services at the same time, were found. An investigation and awareness campaigns followed, after which the following were implemented.

  • awareness sessions with all church denominations in the area;
  • awareness sessions at restaurants to make use of outdoor tables as much as possible;
  • media campaign (print and electronic), with the help from the local municipality; and
  • compliance inspections with the support from the South African Police Service.

EHPs at GRDM furthermore continue to organise joint operations with the South African Police Service for their visits to spaza shops and taverns, as well as Tshisanyamas. These are conducted after-hours and are part of their ongoing interventions to curb the rise of infections in the district. Furthermore, continuous compliance visits to funeral parlours are also taking place.

More Covid-19 measures in place after the President’s announcement on 15 June 2021, include:

  • Curfew from 22:00 to 4:00 – bars and restaurants need to close by 21:00;
  • Alcohols sales from Monday to Thursday from 10:00 to 18:00;
  • Funerals restricted to 50 persons per service with a maximum of 2 hours per funeral, with no after-funeral activities;
  • All gatherings restricted to 50 persons (indoor) and 100 persons (outdoor); and
  • The wearing of masks is mandatory – any person without a face cover in a public space will be committing an offence.

Report non-compliance by businesses or related incidents to the GRDM Disaster Management Centre 24/7 at telephone number 044-805 5071.

ENDS

News Release: Garden Route Clean Fires Campaign reach expands year-on-year

10 June 2021
News Release
For Immediate Release

Garden Route Clean Fires Campaign reach expands year-on-year

For the last seven (7) years, Garden Route District Municipality has incorporated air pollution as part of its community awareness-raising activities. The project was identified due to poor air quality, especially in informal settlements. This pollution is often caused by fires used for household purposes, such as cooking and heating.

The peer education project was first launched in the Klein Karoo in 2014 and was later rolled out in the rest of the Garden Route. The project advanced over the last three years, where the focus was shifted to primary school learners. More communities are being reached when primary school learners are educated.

Dr Johann Schoeman, Manager: District Air Quality Control at GRDM, said, “The municipality awarded a three-year tender to Mingcele Africa NPC.  Mingcele facilitates and manages community development projects with a special focus on educational training support and environmental awareness”. Adding to this, he said: “The Western Cape Education Department was approached whereby the Clean Fires campaign is now incorporated as part of the Grade 3 curriculum”.

The course material covers the following air pollution aspects:

  • what air pollution is;
  • the health effects thereof;
  • what causes air pollution;
  • how you can help to reduce air pollution;
  • how to make a fire;
  • how to make a “cleaner” fire for heating purposes; and
  • how to construct a stove from waste material.

Each participating school receives a study pack with the course material that is very convenient to the teacher. The course material is in line with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), are printed in English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans, and each resource pack consists of:

  • Six printed posters;
  • A game pack to learn about pollution and the environment;
  • Five lesson plans; and
  • Five worksheets in English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans.

(Lesson plans and worksheets are all bound in a full-colour booklet DVD with five plug-ins for an interactive whiteboard).

This year alone, 66 schools in the Garden Route participated in the programme – that is, 115 teachers and 4400 children. It is anticipated that four family members are reached per child with a cumulative impact of 17 600 community members reached through this project for this year alone.

The project statistics for the last three years are as follows:

  • 2019: 37 schools and 72 Teachers;
  • 2020: 46 schools and 63 Teachers; and
  • 2021:  66 schools and 151 Teachers.

For the last three years, the project almost reached 50 000 people in the Garden Route district.

Continuous monitoring and evaluation of the project occur through follow-ups and communication through two-way social media channels and attendance registers.

Due to the success of this project and the positive feedback received from the participating schools, the GRDM committed itself for another three years and a new tender was subsequently advertised for the continuation of the project.

As at Wednesday, 9 June 2021, the sixty-six (66) schools in the district have already received their study packs.

For any further information on the project, please contact Dr Johann Schoeman or Mr Angus Andries at: jschoeman@gardenroute.co.za or 044 693 0006.

Feature image: Study packs ready for distribution to schools in the Garden Route district.

ENDS

Garden Route District Municipality establishes a dispersion modelling function

Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality establishes a dispersion modelling function

For Immediate Release
10 June 2021

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) recently procured the Enviman AERMOD (Air Quality Dispersion Modelling) software programme that enables the GRDM Air Quality Unit to conduct dispersion modelling studies. This is a new initiative to expand the scope of work of the GRDM Air Quality Officers.

According to Dr Johann Schoeman, GRDM Manager: Air Quality: “Air dispersion modelling is defined as a series of mathematical simulations of how air pollutants disperse in the ambient atmosphere. It is performed with computer programs that solve the mathematical equations and algorithms which simulate the dispersion of pollutants.”

Dr Schoeman says AERMOD is also listed as an approved dispersion model in the Regulations that governs Dispersion Modelling, 2014, Government Notice R533. Thus, the program allows for creating air quality maps for comparison against national guidelines and limit values.

The application of this software will assist the Air Quality unit in dealing with air quality complaints. It predicts the emissions and effect of a specific source on a particular residency, depending on real-time weather data availability. For example, suppose a person phones the GRDM to complain about the smoke from a stack of Facility X. In that case, the GRDM can execute a theoretical predication of the dispersion by entering the real-time weather data and stack parameters, and the model will determine the concentrations at the complainant’s residency. GRDM can then determine if the complaint is indeed justified by comparing it with the National Ambient Air Quality standards.

The GRDM can also determine the air quality impact of area sources such as landfill sites on communities. The below dispersion model for Methane was done for the proposed GRDM Landfill site in Mossel Bay, based on the predicted landfill volumes during year one and the historical weather data for Mossel Bay over the last three years.

The programme can also determine various percentile equations to determine a specific source’s worst-case scenario on a community. The 99 percentile, for example, predicts the highest concentration of a pollutant for 1% of the year. This is demonstrated in the picture below.

Feature image: Average hourly period concentrations for Methane from the proposed Landfill site in Mossel Bay computed over a year. As can be seen in both examples, the methane concentrations are insignificant and will not cause any harm to the community. 

ENDS

News Release: Garden Route at the top of its game in controlling air quality

News Release
For immediate release
26 March 2021

News Release: Garden Route at the top of its game in controlling air quality

Garden Route district continues to achieve 100% submission of NAEIS reports

The “National Atmospheric Emission Inventory System” or “NAEIS” is an internet-based emissions reporting system, which is a component of the South African Atmospheric Emission Licencing and Inventory System (SAAELIP) portal. NAEIS allows for regulated industries, as well as authorities to report atmospheric emissions from all sectors for compiling a national atmospheric emission inventory profile. NAEIS is legislated through the National Emission Reporting regulations that prescribe NAEIS reporting.

“Emission inventory means an accounting of the amount of pollutants discharged into the atmosphere and it contains the total emissions for one or more specific greenhouse gases and air pollutants originating from all sources in a certain geographical area and within a specified time span, said Dr Johann Schoeman, Manager: District Air Quality Control.NAEIS is a web-based atmospheric emissions monitoring and reporting system that is aimed at providing accurate, current and complete information. It includes all significant sources of identified atmospheric emissions, including greenhouse gas emissions from South Africa. NAEIS uses a single national reporting system of atmospheric emissions, which includes:

  • Informing policy formulation;
  • Meeting obligations as a country, under the United Framework Convention on Climate Change and any other international treaties to which it is bound; and
  • The establishment and upkeep of a National Emission Inventory Profile.

To comply with the reporting regulations, facilities must report emissions from each preceding year. This is made possible when the NAEIS system is opened for reporting from 1 January to 31 March annually. To ensure that this is done, the GRDM Air Quality unit arranged training sessions for its industries since the inception of NAEIS reporting in 2015 to assist stakeholders with reporting on the NAEIS system. Since the start, the Garden Route district collectively achieved a 100% submission of NAEIS reports although the National target currently stands at 90%.

This 100% submission rate is achieved through relentless assistance to our industry. “We guide the industry through special NAEIS completion target-group sessions, appointments and personal assistance,’ said Dr Schoeman.

“Most of the larger industries also have the capacity to appoint consultants to assist them with NAEIS reporting. We therefore focus on the smaller industries that do not have the capacity to do the reporting.”

Dr Schoeman further explained: “Within the Garden Route district, we have 37 facilities that have to report on NAEIS. With a week remaining, we already achieved a 70% submission rate with 26 Facilities that already submitted their NAEIS reports. We are in the process of reminding and assisting those that are busy with their NAEIS reports to do their submissions before 31 March 2021.”

The GRDM’s Air Quality section is sure that another 100% submission rate will be achieved for 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic made it challenging for both Industry, as well as the Air Quality Officers, because additional to compliance with Covid-19 protocols were added to daily tasks. Despite these challenges, the GRDM used innovative means to achieve its goals and objectives. After the NAEIS reporting cycle, authorities have to audit the NAEIS report, after which the National Department does National verifications.

For more information on the South African Atmospheric Emission Licensing and Inventory Portal (SAAELIP) go to:
https://saaelip.environment.gov.za/saaelip/home/

ENDS

District food control measures remain key to ensuring safe food consumption

News release: District food control measures remain key to ensuring safe food consumption

For Immediate Release
17 March 2021

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is one of the 44 district municipalities and eight (8) metro municipalities in South Africa who has to monitor all food premises to ensure that food is produced, handled, stored, processed and distributed safely. It is therefore important for Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) to inspect food premises to assess that food products purchased by customers are safe for human consumption and are of exceptional quality.

In order for GRDM to align itself to the provisions of health related legislation, regular inspections are conducted at all premises where food products are handled and/or stored.  These businesses, be it formal or informal, are not limited to hotels, restaurants, spaza shops, dairy farms, butcheries school feeding schemes and retail outlets.  While at a premises inspection, EHP check if food products are labelled correctly, hygiene standards are in place, storage is done according to generally accepted standards, food products are handled correctly and also ensure that preventative measures are in place to avoid pest control issues. These inspections are done in accordance with the Regulations governing general hygiene requirements for food premises and the Transport of food; Regulation 638 of 22 June 2018.

The following figures of work outputs for the period January 2017 up to December 2020 are of interest and provide an indication of the number of site visits, which were conducted by GRDM EHPs throughout the region.

  1. Number of food premises inspections: 42 404
  2. Number of water samples taken: 7 784
  3. Food samples taken: 2036
  4. Health surveillance conducted at premises: 92 436 (these include non-food premises)

The general public can be assured that measures are in place to ensure that safe and healthy food products are provided to all consumers. Furthermore, the public is urged to report any irregularities, complaints or non-compliance to their nearest GRDM Municipal Health office, or to lodge such issues via phone to 044 805 1550 or e-mail info@gardenroute.gov.za.

All complaints will be attended to and timeous feedback will be provided.

ENDS

Media Statement: Oil smell and possible oil pollution in Dana Bay

Media Statement: Oil smell and possible oil pollution in Dana Bay

For Immediate Release
10 February 2021

Community members recently raised concerns via social media regarding possible oily residue in the Blinde River and areas reeking of oil in Dana Bay.  An inspection was subsequently done at the Blinde River on 10 February 2021 at around 13:15. Results of the inspection indicate that the blackish residue is most likely from algae growth in the river.

Algae often loosens up and decomposes alongside river banks and is in this case visibly darker in colour, similar to oil residue. PetroSA, who also visited the Blind River also confirmed this finding. However, samples were taken and sent for lab tests to confirm this statement. Furthermore, it was also confirmed that there was no oily smell from the black algae residue in the River or in Dana Bay.

The oily smell during the night is most likely residing from the PetroSA Gas To Liquids (GTL) refinery and specifically from an oil spill that occurred at the end of 2020 in two storm water ponds located adjacent to the N2. This incident was subsequently communicated to community members.

The respective case officers from National and Provincial level have been informed and are currently busy with applicable administrative action to resolve this issue. Over the short term, a solution is to clean the affected ponds, which is already underway. While the long-term solution is to upgrade the applicable unit to prevent spillages going forward. Further details about such clean-up operations need to be directed to the relevant authority, i.e. PetroSA.

The fact that the smells are more eminent during early morning hours is just that at that time of the morning, weather conditions are normally stable with dispersion conditions favouring air pollution. As soon as the temperature rises and the wind picks up, the smells gets dispersed.

Provincial air quality monitoring stations are located in George, Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn. The concentrations of pollutants measured at the Mossel Bay station continues to comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Furthermore, the listed activities in the Garden Route are monitored through their respective Atmospheric Emission Licences and any non-compliance will continue to be addressed through administrative action.

Mossel Bay residents are further informed that PetroSA management has opted in for an open line of communication with the public. Residents are therefore urged to contact the PetroSA Shift Manager at 044- 601 2531 to lodge a complaint which will be subsequently investigated.

The public is also welcome to contact the District Air Quality office for any applicable air quality complaints under the GRDM jurisdiction. The office number is 044-693 0006 during normal office hours (Monday – Thursday, 07:30 – 16:30; Fridays from 07:30 – 13:30).

Dr Johann Schoeman
Manager: District Air Quality Control
jschoeman@gardenroute.gov.za
Tel: +27 (0)44 693 0006 | +27 (0)84 317 9167

ENDS

News Release: Eradication of Illegal Dumping campaign in George extended to end of March 2021

4 February 2021
News Release
For immediate release

News Release: Eradication of illegal dumping campaign in George extended to end of March 2021

With the roll-out of the Illegal Dumping Project in George last year and the various phases that have been implemented so far, the timeframe of the project has now been extended to the end of March 2021, according to Morton Hubbe, Garden Route District Waste Manager.

The Illegal Dumping Project is a joint initiative between Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and George Municipality in the fight against the illegal dumping of waste in the George and surrounding areas. The project was launched in Thembalethu and Pacaltsdorp during October last year, however the financial assistance by GRDM to George Municipality for the renting of machines to remove the waste has ended on 30 November 2021. George Municipality subsequently decided to continue with the renting of machines at their own cost.

Waste burnt in skips placed at hotspots areas within the George municipal area.

With the funds made available to George Municipality, Hubbe said: “Nine skips were placed at various spots within the Thembalethu and Pacaltsdorp areas and are rotated to other illegal dumping hotspots within these two areas”.

George Municipality is already in the process to secure more funds in order for the project to continue to achieve the desired outcomes.

Deployment of EPWP workers

In addition to the project, two teams of thirty Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers are working in both areas to clean-up illegal dumping hotspots throughout these areas. Various items are then placed into nearby skips, for removal. So far nearly 2700 tons of illegally dumped items have been removed with JCBs and Tipper Trucks in both areas.

Awareness about illegal dumping

One of the components of the project, is to create awareness about illegal dumping in the most effected areas. For this purpose, 36 educators were appointed to conduct door-to-door sessions in the respective areas. Households reached also have an opportunity to complete a survey regarding the issue at hand. Questions focus specifically on personal experience in relation to waste removal in their specific areas, the reporting of illegal dumping to the local municipality etc. To date, two thousand (2000) households have been visited and the more are expected to follow. These visits will be conducted until the end of March this year.

Waste burned in Skips

Although the skips are placed at identified hotspots, it has come under the attention of the both municipalities that people within these areas are burning their waste in the skips. This is an unacceptable behaviour and residents are requested to directly report these incidents to the Law Enforcement Unit of George Municipality at 044-801 6350 or sprins@george.gov.za. The skips are only used for the purpose to dump waste and efficient plans to remove full bins are in place.

END

Our roles and responsibilities at a residence where someone died of COVID-19

News Release: Our roles and responsibilities at a residence where someone died of COVID-19

For Immediate Release
4 February 2021

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) plays a key role in the collective response after a person succumbs to COVID-19 at home. Role players such as the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP), funeral undertakers, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) responders, the South African Police Service (SAPS), as well as private and public sector health representatives are involved in this response.

According to Johan Compion, GRDM Manager: Municipal Health and Environmental Services: “The process of handling suspected or positive deceased is not as complex as many may have thought, but it is still a time-bearing process. This does however requires strict adherence to health and safety protocols by all role players,” he said.

When a member of the community passes away from COVID-19 at home, an EHP receives a notification from either the Western Cape Government (WCG) Provincial Health Department or a funeral undertaker to inform them of who, where and when the person is that passed away. During this time, the EHP also confirms if an EMS responder or any other  medical  practitioner from i.e. Netcare 911, ER24 etc.) declared the person clinically dead. Once all the relevant data is checked and confirmed, an EHP is tasked to conduct health surveillance at the residence where the deceased is located.

During such time, all safety protocols are observed and additional information and guidance is provided around the disinfection of bedding, clothing and the handling of household waste that was generated by the person who passed away.

A funeral undertaker who arrives on the scene has to wear the prescribed personal protective gear. An EHP is responsible for not only monitoring this, but also to ensure that funeral undertakers wrap the deceased in a single polythene bag prior to transporting the body to a mortuary. This is followed by ensuring that those who handled the deceased are also disinfected. After all such protocols have been adhered to, the funeral undertaker safely transports the deceased to a funeral parlour where the process of dressing, preparing and storage of the body will take place under more strict prescribed health protocols.

Once the body has been placed in a casket and the outer surface disinfected, it is not deemed necessary to wrap or seal the casket because the deceased does not pose an infection risk to those handling the casket.

It remains of utmost importance for EHPs to be involved in the entire monitoring process as described to ensure the that no additional public health nuisance occurs during any of the steps being followed by all relevant role players.

Read more about the responsibilities of EHPs here.

Picture: Pexels

ENDS

News release: GRDM rolls out proactive disinfection activities in George

News Release: GRDM rolls out proactive disinfection activities in George

For Immediate Release
2 December 2020

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) today, 2 December 2020, bumped up its disinfection interventions, proactively extending its activities to more areas in George. GRDM firefighters did this for Blanco (George) at spaza shops, small supermarkets, butcheries and liquor stores. Such operations were already started in April 2020 when communal toilets (taps, handles, seats and walls etc.), taxi ranks and other public spaces were frequently cleaned.

Tomorrow, 3 December 2020, disinfecting activities will continue, this time at taxi ranks and shops in Pacaltsdorp. Over the coming weekend, Thembalethu, Rosemoor and Parkdene sites will be disinfected, followed by similar activities in Protea Park, Maraiskamp, Syferfontein and Rosedale.

The fire season officially started yesterday, which means firefighters are now required to carefully plan and balance their primary roles and responsibilities with the resurgence of COVID-19. Five (5) firefighters from GRDM conducted disinfection activities today; however the number is expected to increase as more activities are rolled out to other hotspot areas.

GRDM urges the public to continue to commit to safer behaviours- wear your mask, wash your hands regularly and keep your social distance. This festive season, when shops and other areas are expect a lot of feet, remember to avoid confined spaces, close contact and crowded areas. Lastly, remember to reduce the size of gatherings, or postpone them until it is safer, take your gatherings outdoors, and at all times.

ENDS

Garden Route District Municipality EHPs receive pepper spray training

News Release: Garden Route District Municipality EHPs receive pepper spray training

For Immediate Release
18 November 2020

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) and the Administrative Clerks received pepper spray training on 10 and 11 November 2020. The South African Police Services (SAPS) provided the training and placed a strong emphasis not only on self-defence methods but also about identifying risky situations to avoid assaults.

According to Mr Clive Africa, GRDM Executive Manager for Community Services, the training came at a time when crime statistics are on the rise and EHPs feel evermore unsafe while conducting inspections.

“The majority of our EHPs are women and they are particularly vulnerable, furthermore, in our country crimes committed against women and children remains a major concern for everyone,” said Africa.

Another reason for such training is, the GRDM’s intervention after an EHP was assaulted by a shop owner while conducting a compliance inspection. The EHP found that the foodstuffs at the business did not comply with the South African Regulations: Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs R146.

According to R146, labelling requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Information in English and where possible one of the official languages
  • Product Name / descriptor
  • Address
  • Ingredients including compound ingredients
  • Indication of additives
  • Indication of ALL allergens
  • Country of origin
  • Batch ID
  • Date marking
  • Storage instructions
  • Weight declaration
  • Letter sizes for some items need to be in a designated font size and / or in a bold and / or uppercase font and positioned in a certain place.

The training also comes at a time when Government prepares for its 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence which starts on the 25 November and ends on 10 December 2020. In addition, there have been numerous reports of ambulance crews in South Africa who have been victims of crimes, especially during the lockdown. The GRDM sees it as important to provide employees with the necessary tools to protect themselves. No one should feel threatened to do their work and everyone has the right to protect themselves from harm.

ENDS

Pictured: Bronwen Moolman, Environmental Health Practitioner for Garden Route District Municipality holding the pepperspray she now keeps by her when doing inspections.