People live in Glen Austin and surrounds for the peace and quiet, and to be next to the dams in the area. But it stinks, and the birds are dying. And neither the council nor the local dump site will take responsibility.
For the past six months, residents of Glen Austin near Olifantsfontein in Midrand have woken up to the unbearable reek of rotten eggs. Suspicion immediately fell on the Interwaste FG landfill site. Many locals have come down with health problems including stinging eyes, skin allergies, sinusitus, asthma, coughing and other respiratory ailments.
It is not only humans who are suffering. Scores of birds are dying daily and horses are coughing, yet there has been little or no official explanation of the smelly air, and possible poisoning of the environment. On September 23 during a clean-up, nearly 50 African sacred ibises were found dead at the Glen Austin Bird Sanctuary and the Bullfrog Reserve, as well as ten blacksmith plovers, one moorhen and a dog.
In vain, residents have asked both the Ekurhuleni council and Interwaste for an explanation, and have launched a petition calling on Ekurhuleni Metro as well as the provincial and national governments to “stop pollution of our streams, rivers, wetlands, stormwater channels and other water bodies with the continuous overflowing of sewerage and other toxic materials”.
The affected areas are North Eastern Johannesburg, incorporating Glen Austin, Clayville, Midstream and Olifantsfontein, as well as parts of Centurion. At a Midstream Estate residents’ meeting on 14 October, 77% complained that they were living with the stench constantly and some said they had gone so far as to tape up their doors and windows to keep out the smell.
Residents are convinced the source of the stench is Interwaste – which has denied responsibility.