Category: <span>Municipal Health</span>

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.

GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners, SAPS and Local Municipalities visit Spaza Shops

GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners, SAPS and Local Municipalities visit spaza shops

News Release
6 November 2020

During October a number of role players visited 126 Spaza Shops in the Garden Route to ensure that compliance to regulations governing general hygiene requirements, including COVID-19 regulations; food premises standards; and the transport of food and related matters, were adhered to.  The visits were arranged by the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) and approached jointly with the help of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and local municipal officials from town planning, law enforcement, building control and local economic development.

“The Garden Route District Municipality command centre collectively decided that unannounced visits to Spaza Shops were needed,” said Johan Compion, GRDM Manager: Municipal Health and Environmental Services. “Spaza Shops are visited by a great number of people and especially nowadays, with the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 emerging, it is more important than ever that businesses are safe and compliant to regulations,” he said.

During the inspections the focus is on the following issues:

  • Checking if all Spaza Shops had Certificates of Acceptability (CoAs);
  • compliance to local municipal bylaws;
  • compliance to hygiene standards;
  • adherence to COVID-19 safety measures (hand sanitizer at designated points available to customers and employees; social distancing for queues);
  • monitoring of employees and customers wore face masks;
  • sanitising of hands before and after servicing customers;
  • sanitising of hands after handling money.;
  • displaying appropriate signage and awareness information;
  • maximum ventilation;
  • daily cleaning and disinfection of high risk surfaces and objects;
  • wearing of utility gloves by those removing refuse;
  • proper sealing of waste bags; and
  • no illegal dumping of waste.

Challenges identified at some of the Spaza Shops, include:

  • Sanitising and wearing of masks in some Spaza Shops were not adhered to.
  • Social distancing of 1.5 m in and outside shops when queuing and inside some Spaza shops were not followed by customers.

Where non-compliance was identified, additional awareness and education was provided and an inspection report issued, which will include a follow-up inspection. This has to happen to ensure that hygienic requirements are met and COVID-19 preventative measures are followed to combat and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Picture: Gcobani Tshozi, EHP for Garden Route DM and Thomas Fosibo (Manager of Shop 2 in Thembalethu)

ENDS

Invitation to participate in the Household Composting Pilot Project:  Zoar (Kannaland Municipality)

Garden Route District Municipality, in collaboration with Kannaland Municipality, will roll out a Household Composting Pilot Project in Zoar.  Approximately 30% of household waste being disposed of at landfill consists of organic waste that could potentially be diverted from landfill by means of household composting.  Further, household composting could subsequently result in a huge waste management cost saving and put sorely needed nutrients back into our soil.

The pilot project will run for a duration of one year and the data collected will be used to motivate the further roll out of the project to all households in the Kannaland municipal area.  Permanent residents in Zoar are invited to apply for participation in the pilot project.

It must be noted that provision was made to accommodate only thirty (30) households in the pilot project who will be provided with a composting bin, and / or a worm farm, a scale and data sheets.  Due to the limited number, the first thirty applications received will be selected to participate in the project.

All applicants must conform to the following criteria:

  • Must reside permanently in Zoar for the duration of the pilot project (at least one year).
  • Must attend an information session regarding the composting project that will be held in Zoar.
  • Must be willing to participate in the pilot project and report organic waste quantities on a monthly basis for the duration of the pilot project (one year).
  • Composting bins will only be distributed to households with a garden / lawn / vegetable garden(s) generating green waste.
  • Households / apartments that do not have gardens / yards i.e. that generate green waste can be provided with only a worm farm for kitchen scraps etc.

Click here to download the application forms to participate in the pilot project.

Completed application forms must be sent to wayne@gardenroute.gov.za by no later than Friday, 30 October 2020.

News Release: Reduce, reuse and replant – home composting project rolled out in Bitou

News Release

19 October 2020

Reduce, reuse and replant – home composting project rolled out in Bitou

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) continues to roll our home composting projects throughout the Garden Route.

GRDM Waste Management Officer, Mr Johan Gie presenting an insightful presentation about home composting during the information session.

Home composting not only keeps material from overburdening landfill sites but also reduces transport costs of refuse removal services. An earlier waste characterisation study revealed that large quantities of organic waste still got transported from households and businesses in the Garden Route district. Since most landfills sites in the Garden Route are already closed or nearing their fully capacity, the GRDM initiated a home composting pilot project in 2018 to practically and gradually advocate and promote the reduction of organic waste from households going to landfills.

The home composting project aims to motivate the different councils to roll out this project to all households in the municipal areas, and thus extending the lifespans of landfills. After months of waiting due to COVID-19 restrictions, officials from the Bitou Municipality’s Waste Management section and residents from Bitou welcomed the rollout of the project.

Mr Douglas Baardman was very excited for the project to finally kick-off.

A formal information and handover session took place on Wednesday, 14 October 2020. At the event, the Bitou Municipality’s Waste Management Manager, Mr Douglas Baartman, who officially open the session, expressed his Councils gratitude towards the GRDM for initiating the project in the Bitou municipal area. He also mentioned that residents responded in excitement and great numbers to the project – a lot of applications were received.  In concluding he thanked the GRDM Waste Management team for their leadership role and guidance.

Johan Gie with a participant (right), ready to start her own home composting project

Mr Johan Gie, Waste Management Officer of the GRDM did an in-depth presentation about home composting, which was followed by a question and answering session.  He discussed topics inclusive of benefits of home composting; what and what not to compost; how to compost; and the different types of composing.  One of the highlights of the session was when participants were provided with established worm farms.  In addition, each participant also received a troubleshooting guide and guidelines on composting; an electronic scale to record monthly waste diverted for composting, and datasheets to complete monthly statistics.

The information session was conducted in a very informative way and participants were very eager in asking questions.

GRDM Municipal Waste Management section agreed with participants to complete monthly updates to enable the GRDM to monitor the progress of the project and capture data for future reference.  The pilot project will run for a year and results from the study will be presented to Local Municipal Councils. In this report, the exact quantities of organic waste diverted from landfills with the assistance and buy-in from households and businesses will be listed.

Considering that 30% – 40% of the normal household black bag waste contains organic waste originating from the garden and kitchen, the project will seek to change these worrying numbers. Composting is a simple, environmentally friendly and cheap way to add nutrient-rich humus to fuel plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil.

Medical male circumcision to benefit men and their partners

Media Release: Medical male circumcision to benefit men and their partners

16 October 2020

Primary Health Care clinics are  once again continuing services that were high risk during the peak of the pandemic. One of these are medical male circumcisions (MMC).

“Apart from drastically reducing the risk of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted illnesses, MMC also improves hygiene and reduces the risk of developing penile cancer and the risk of passing the virus that causes cervical cancer to their female partners”, said Programme Manager Sandra Smit.

Smit also elaborates on the great turn-out of young men during MMC outreaches.

“Our programme did really well, and although we had to postpone outreaches and procedures we are excited to get back on track and assist as many men as possible. We implore the youth to make the best decisions for their current and future health. One of those is getting circumcised. The new guideline focus on ages 15 years and older but we will not deny services of those that are younger. Boys under the age of 18 must have parental consent”, she said.

Twenty-year-old Luwayne Michaels says he had the procedure done to ensure he has a healthy family one day. “I wanted to minimize my risk for opportunistic infections, and the fact that I can reduce the risk of my partner developing cervical cancer made it easier to decide”.

MMC is the complete removal of the foreskin. The procedure requires only local anaesthetic and takes about 20 minutes. Patients can leave the facility and go home after the procedure. The wound takes about 6 weeks to heal.

Male Circumcision is not a guarantee that you will not get HIV. Men still need to use a condom each time they have sex, even if they have been circumcised.

Men who are interested should visit their nearest clinic or Primary Health Care Centre to make an appointment for the procedure.  The service is free of charge.

-END-

Nadia Ferreira
Principal Communications Officer
Garden Route and Central Karoo Districts
Western Cape Government Health

Media Statement: Municipal communicators make shocking discoveries at illegal dump site

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
8 October 2020

Municipal communicators make shocking discoveries at illegal dump site

Municipal communicators from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) recently visited an illegal dump site in Pacaltsdorp to photograph the progress made by contractors tasked to clean sites. With shock, communicators noted a countless number of items, including toxic, sharp and dangerous ones, as well as foul smelling water – leaving one communicator almost vomiting from the stench. “The scariest part is that there were kids playing in the same area, metres from the dangerous field of waste and water,” said one communicator.

The GRDM, in collaboration with George Municipality are hard at work trying to clear illegal dump sites in the George area, including Thembalethu and Pacaltsdorp. GRDM has committed R2.47 million to the project. George Municipality earlier announced that they will contribute R500 000.00 to curb illegal dumping. JCB backhoe loaders are utilised to clear sites and 35 Expanded Public Works Participant (EPWP) waste pickers work alongside these trucks to collect smaller items. More activities are lined up to take place over the next few months, including a survey to find out why people illegally discard of waste; and door-to-door awareness about the impact of illegal dumping , etc.

The question many Garden Routers is asking is – do we all want the areas cleaned or have many of us decided that a clean and safe environment is not important? The GRDM stumbled upon concerns raised on Facebook by a government employee who said that an illegal dumpsite was cleaned by the municipalities (Garden Route District and George), but moments later someone dumped their waste there again. Others commented on her post by saying that municipalities should plant trees at the sites, however this suggestion was said not to work because some community members might remove the trees. Another person said that the municipalities cleaned an area on a Monday, but by Tuesday the area was dirty again.

GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) monitor the areas each day after a clean-up was conducted. EHPs are already aware that water at illegal dumping sites are toxic, but a decision was made to take water samples which will be analysed. Test results will indicate how dangerous these sites are  (backed by scientific evidence).

The public are urged to remind their friends, family and neighbours that the illegal dumping of waste is dangerous and that it poses a health hazard. Waste should be collected in refuse bags and placed for collection on waste removal days. Builders’ rubble and waste not suitable for bags must be dropped at the municipal refuse site on the R102 (airport road).

Communities can provide names, vehicle registration details or addresses of alleged illegal dumpers and make a statement in this regard by contacting Law Enforcement at 044 801 6350 or sprins@george.gov.za. George Municipality states that a person doesn’t need a photograph of the perpetrator, but that it would strengthen the case for a warning or fine to be issued.

Members of the public are also welcome to report illegal dumpsites to 044 802 2900.

Illegal dumping remains an offence and carries a R1000 fine.

ENDS