Criminal case filed against India-based UPL's South African subsidiary for pollution caused by chemical leaks

PTI | Johannesburg | Updated: 03-09-2021 18:33 IST | Created: 03-09-2021 17:57 IST
Criminal case filed against India-based UPL's South African subsidiary for pollution caused by chemical leaks
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  • South Africa

Criminal charges have been registered against the South African subsidiary of India-based agrochemical giant UPL over massive environmental pollution caused by chemical leaks from its warehouse in Durban after an arson attack during the violence that plagued the country in mid-July.

Environmentalists have claimed that UPL Ltd (formerly known as United Phosphorus Limited) did not appear to have even basic plans in place at its warehouse to contain a major spillage of toxic chemicals into the environment in case of natural disasters or sabotage.

The pesticide major has been being charged for environmental pollution due to the release of toxic fumes from its manufacturing plant in Durban after the arson that led to over 3.5 tonnes of dead fish being washed up in river estuaries and along the beachfront.

Communities living in suburbs near the plant have also reported health problems after being exposed to a toxic cloud for 11 days and are planning a public meeting this weekend to address their concerns.

A criminal case has been registered at the Verulam police station against UPL for environmental pollution, Dr. Zakhele Dlamini, a senior official of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), told the KZN legislature's portfolio committee on environmental affairs on Thursday.

Dlamini said further charges may be brought by eight other government agencies which are investigating the matter.

However, UPL said it is unaware of the charges and also denied the claim of inefficient contingency plans.

"(UPL) has not seen any charges, nor does it understand the basis for such charges, if there are any, or who has laid them," the company was quoted as saying by local news website Daily Maverick.

The firm, which has its headquarters in Mumbai, said since the destruction of its leased warehouse, it has complied fully with its reporting obligations, working closely with the relevant national, provincial, and local government authorities, after a directive was issued by EDTEA.

"It disclosed its inventories, as required, a considerable time ago, and its team of experts has employed an array of measures to contain and progressively clean up the contamination. UPL is conducting an extensive chemical sampling and testing regime, the results of which are being fully disclosed to the authorities,'' the company said.

"Contrary to what has been said, UPL will continue to do everything it can to eliminate the spilled product from the environment, and no expense or expertise is being spared, although the event was the result of civil unrest entirely beyond its control," it added.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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