WaterCAN disappointed over yet another postponement of Sasol environmental case
Delays in legal proceedings hinder both justice and the vital environmental cleanup process
WaterCAN, an initiative of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), has expressed deep disappointment that the court case against Sasol involving allegations of water pollution was postponed yet again on the 7th of August 2023. The court case has also been transferred to a new court, and proceedings is scheduled to start in the Regional Court in Evander on the 20th of November 2023.
A former Sasol employee-turned-whistleblower, Ian Erasmus, laid criminal complaints against the fuel giant, alleging that they knowingly released water contaminated with high levels of vanadium, diethanolamine and potassium carbonate at its Secunda operations in Mpumalanga. These alleged actions have raised significant environmental and public health concerns, prompting regulatory investigations and legal action.
Sasol now faces several charges of environmental degradation, including the unlawful disposal of waste and the negligent discharge of contaminated water.
WaterCAN’s executive manager, Dr Ferrial Adam, says continuous delays in the legal proceedings not only hinders justice but also impedes the critical process of environmental cleanup. “Tactics to prolong legal proceedings can often be interpreted as an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for the alleged wrongdoing. It prolongs the environmental harm caused by the alleged violations, and raises concerns about the commitment of all parties involved to address the environmental concerns promptly and effectively.”
The case against Sasol has garnered significant attention due to its potential implications for environmental conservation and corporate accountability. The allegations point to serious violations of environmental regulations that demand urgent attention. “The postponement of the case potentially prolongs the process of identifying, assessing, and remediating the environmental damage caused by the alleged activities. WaterCAN urges all stakeholders involved to prioritise the case. We need a swift and transparent legal process to determine the facts and hold those responsible for pollution accountable for their actions.”
Adam says it is “very concerning” that this is not the only case that Sasol is facing. “The Secunda plant is also presently in court for its high levels of CO2(equiv) emissions in Mpumalanga. We cannot stand by and watch one company pollute our air, water and soil, thus affecting people and the environment.”
WaterCAN tested soil and water close to Sasol in 2022, and uncovered high levels of vanadium in the soil and trace amounts in water. “Sasol should be honest and accept their responsibility for releasing these harmful chemicals into our rivers, which ultimately land up in the Vaal. Prolonging the water pollution case, just shows that Sasol is not serious about a healthy environment”, says Adam.
WaterCAN remains committed to advocating for environmental conservation, corporate responsibility, and a just legal process.
A soundclip with comment by WaterCAN Executive Manager Dr Ferrial Adam is here.