An inquiry as to whether the operational activities at Soshanguve landfill site comply with the standards laid down in the document entitled "Minimum requirements for waste disposal by landfill" - Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
Molelekwa, Gomotsegang Fred "Telex"
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A cross sectional study was conducted at the Soshanguve landfill site north of Pretoria between June and December 1999. The site is classified as a General. Medium and Less significant leachate producing disposal site (GMB-). The site is situated in close proximity to informal settlement area. Such proximity could cause the landfill site to pose potential public health threats to the residents in the settlements as they are likely to go and scavenge, or salvage disposed waste materials. In addition, stray animals found in the area could be in danger if the operations at the landfill site were not to conform to the minimum requirements for waste disposal as laid down by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. The landfill site may not look good to the residents and passers-by due to litter scattered all over the site and beyond the boundaries. The study was conducted to promote better management of waste through proper disposal and operational activities that meet the standards set in the minimum requirements document, in order to prevent and control negative impact of waste disposal on the environment and health of Soshanguve residents. The primary objective of the study was to establish whether the operational activities at the landfill site were conforming to the minimum requirements for waste disposal provided for by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry based on its size and classification. Data were collected using qualitative and quantitative research methods. In-depth interviews were conducted with the managers responsible for waste management at the NPMSS and workers based at the landfill site. Review of records was done to determine the type and amount of waste that was disposed of at the site during 1998 and 1999. Review of records showed that waste material disposed of at the Soshanguve landfill site comprised of household waste, rubble, building rubble and garden refuse . Household waste formed the bulk of waste and its disposal increased significantly from January 1998 to November 1999 (t=2 .60, df=21, p<0.02, Cl=401.0 - 879.8). Other waste disposed of showed a decreasing trend over the two year period. Efficiency of compacting the waste was tested by sampling nearby stream and ponds onsite. Chemical testing of water was done by the CSIR. Operations at the site were observed. Infrastructural requirements such as toilet facilities, drinking water and fencing were also observed by the researcher. Observations showed a lack in these requirements. As a result of poor fencing, there was no controlled access into the site and the site was accessed by informal salvagers, scavengers, and stray animals. Reports of the disposal of hazardous chemical materials on the site were received and used disposable nappies were observed on-site. Machinery for waste disposal was insufficient and at times, it would breakdown resulting into waste not covered and compacted for more than a week. The situation led to the presence of flies, rodents and emission of foul smell that could have serious health impact and cause major discomfort in the surrounding communities. The situation may funher prohibit sustainable land-use, as the area may be damaged beyond rehabilitation. Ind1rect method of measuring waste observed could kad to overestimation of the amount of waste disposed of at the landfill site. There was generally poor management of waste at Soshanguve landfill site which could be attributed to insufficient machinery. Better efforts in managing the Soshanguve landfill site are needed as the current operations at the site could have major public health implications to the environment and the surrounding communities. Sufficient resources should be provided to ensure sound waste disposal. Waste disposal site management committee should be established and local communities should form part of the committee to ensure objective, informed and acceptable decision-making. Interventions to promote awareness about waste disposal and management, amongst the communities need to be put in place.