21 May 2014 18:40pm
WALVIS BAY, 21 MAY 2014 Residents of Narraville in Walvis Bay are strongly opposing the storage of dangerous goods, including explosives and radioactive material, near the residential area.
The residents made their voices heard on the matter at a community consultation meeting held in Narraville Tuesday evening.
Explosives? That is a bomb, we do not need that in our backyards, rather store it somewhere far, said a female resident.
The goods include dangerous goods in various classes: class one explosives; class two gases; class three - flammable liquids; class four - flammable solids or substances; class five - oxidising substances; class six - toxic substances; and class seven - radioactive materials.
These are goods exported/imported between Namibia and other countries through the Port of Walvis Bay.
The companies Native Storage Facility and Enviro Solutions made proposals to and consulted the Walvis Bay local authority, the Namibian Port Authority (NamPort) and other stakeholders on collecting all the dangerous goods stored around Walvis Bay and safely storing these in a facility near Narraville.
The facility to be renovated is a communication bunker formerly used by the South African army. It is located less than 30 kilometres south of Walvis Bay.
The bunker will be a temporary storage facility for such goods before they are taken to a long-term facility to be built at Farm 58, situated a few kilometres away from the bunker in the south of Walvis Bay.
During the consultation meeting which turned into a heated debate, owner of Enviro Solutions Alan Jenneker and project leader at Native Storage Facility, Tomas Jonas explained that their intentions are to control such dangerous goods as some of it is currently not safely stored.
This is a pro-active decision. Whether we like it or not, one day we will face the consequences of our actions as these substances are already amongst us and we need to make sure they are safely stored now, Jonas said.
Residents are mostly concerned that the bunker and Farm 58 are situated too close to Narraville and the town of Walvis Bay, saying should an explosion occur, their lives will be in danger.
Joranda Murangi, an environmental scientist at the Namibia Water Corporation (NamWater) in Walvis Bay who was also present at the meeting, said their concern is that the bunker is located close to the water pipe supplying the town and if the pipe bursts, chances are that the water will be contaminated.
A distance of 4.7 kilometres from the bunker to the water pipe is too close. We fear that water contamination could easily occur, Murangi said.
Another concern raised is that the combination of these goods in one place might be dangerous as some dangerous substances do not mix with others.
We are wasting time here, just be honest with us and tell us if there is nuclear material stored here because that is our fear. We already refused to have such goods near our houses, another resident said.
Other residents noted that the place where the goods are to be stored will soon be part of Walvis Bay town as the harbour town is expanding fast.
What I need to know is whether this project is already approved, because then there is no point for consultations as you will just implement it regardless of the objections, a senior community member stated.
In response to this, Jenneker said NamPort and the municipality has supported the idea but there is still no legal certificate issued as the environmental impact assessments are not completed.
We are currently consulting on the dangers involved, your input as the community will also determine whether this project gets the go-ahead from the relevant stakeholders, he explained.
All in all, residents said the idea to control the storage of such dangerous goods is good, but the proposed place for storage is a no-go zone and they want it to be located far away from any town.
Speaking on behalf of the Narraville residents, Stan Baumann told Nampa after the meeting that a planned peaceful demonstration has been put on hold until a final decision is taken on the project.
If they decide to go ahead and implement it where we do not want it, then we will demonstrate, but for now we will wait and see, Baumann told this news agency.
Closing the meeting, Walvis Bay Mayor Uilika Nambahu thanked the community for their participation and said their views will be compiled into a report to be submitted to the relevant stakeholders for consideration.
Other consulted stakeholders in the project are the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Safety and Security, Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and the Ministry of Works and Transport.