‘Evidence points to government lying about sewage spillage’

There is evidence to prove that the Department of Environmental Affairs misled the public about the scale of sewage spillage into the beaches in Cape Town, ActionSA has said.

Michelle Wasserman, ActionSA Western Cape provincial chairperson, said she has canoed from Three Anchor Bay to the exit point of Green Point sewage outfall, where she allegedly noticed islands of floating sewage, sanitary pads, tampons and condoms.

“The exit point of the Green Point sewage outfall is impossible to miss as hundreds of seagulls gather on top of it, eating the floating excrement,” said Wasserman.

“The sight of islands of slimy, brown sewage floating in the ocean, with seagulls all around and a seal playing nearby, is absolutely heartbreaking. Kayakers reported that some of the sewage had, that morning, drifted into Granger Bay.

“This first-hand experience confirms Stellenbosch University’s epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes’ statement that the discharged effluent is untreated. Barnes recently confirmed to the Sunday Weekend Argus that the only ‘pre-treatment’ applied to the raw sewage is the removal of large objects such as plastic bags and baby nappies.

“Even this ‘screening’ process is ineffective, as evidenced by the presence of sanitary pads, tampons, condoms and ear buds floating in the water.”

Based on her findings, Wasserman said ActionSA refutes the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s statement that the effluent discharged is not raw sewage but “preliminary treated sewage”.

This term is purely designed to mislead the public, she said.

She explained further: “ActionSA awaits the outcome of our appeals against the permits granted to the City of Cape Town which allow it to continue pumping raw sewage into the ocean for another five years.

“Any permit granted by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment must ensure that, within the shortest possible time, the City of Cape Town establishes the infrastructure necessary to process the sewage so that all harmful elements, including chemicals, toxins and hormones, are removed before the remaining water is discharged into the sea.”

She added that if her party’s appeal against the granting of the permits is unsuccessful, ActionSA will consider taking legal steps to protect the residents’ health, the environment and the tourism economy.

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