Namibia, a dumping place for foreign waste?
According to the company Native Storage Facility, “Namport receives large volumes of a variety of goods and materials, which are stored at various locations within the harbour area and surrounding warehouse facilities before transportation by means of export/ import through the inland road and rail networks.
Some of these goods received through the Port are classified as dangerous goods by national and international standards. Capacity is limited at the harbour, and storage facilities of such goods and materials require legislation and standards compliance, which is lacking in certain instances.
It is with this background that Native Storage Facility is offering a solution to ease capacity and non-compliance issues by availing a state of the art storage facility for dangerous goods and other hazardous substances.”
Dangerous goods’ are materials or items with hazardous properties which, if not properly controlled, present a potential hazard to human health and safety, the environment, the infrastructure and their means of transport.
It seems reasonable to build a facility to store waste of local origin; especially if it is scattered at various locations as mentioned above and probably not managed properly.
However, it is stated in the background information that the storage facility will be capable to store waste classified by the IMDG Code (International Maritime Dangerous Goods) from 1 to 9.
Besides others, dangerous materials such as heavy water, uranium enriched U235, plutonium and their compounds, spent irradiated fuel elements from a nuclear reactor and other highly toxic and nuclear substances are named to be stored in the facility.
This raises many serious questions. Heavy water, enriched Uranium 235, plutonium and their compounds, spent irradiated fuel elements from a nuclear reactor are all materials not produced in Namibia.
Where will the radioactive waste be coming from? Will it be imported from other countries to be stored in Namibia despite the fact that import of nuclear and toxic waste into Namibia is against the constitution.
The Namibian Constitution of 1990 states in Article 95: “The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, polices aimed at maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians both present and future; in particular shall provide measures against the dumping or recycling of foreign nuclear and toxic waste on Namibian territory.”
Earthlife’s question raised in 1998 to Government “Does Namibia intend to allow trading, dumping, recycling and or storage of any kind of foreign waste on Namibian territory now and in future was answered by then first time Prime Minister Hon. Hage Geingob, “Let me hasten to assure you that we are committed to protecting the environment within Namibia, and, as far as possible, globally.
I further assure you that the Government of Namibia does not intend allowing anyone to dump or dispose of any type of foreign waste in Namibia.”
Under no circumstances should we contemplate importing foreign waste. We have to deal with our own nuclear waste generated by the mines and hospitals.”
Besides, it should be looked at an alternative location for storage of dangerous goods produced locally, far away from settlements. Such a storage facility in the neighbourhood of Narraville will impact on the health of the residents in the long-term” said Bertchen Kohrs of Earthlife.
The background information also states that storage of the dangerous goods is not planned to be permanently. So where will it be stored in the long-term? What will its ultimate destination be? Bertchen Kohrs asked, “Is the old bunker near Narraville considered a safe storage facility? Can geological stability be ascertained for such a long time? Will the residents of Narraville be exposed to radiation and toxicity? Who will monitor the site for leaks into the air, land and water? What systems will there be in place for disaster management?” Many more questions need to be answered to fullest satisfaction in the Environmental Impact Assessment commissioned by Native Storage Facility to guarantee safety for the environment and its people today and for future generations before any development happens.