The Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape has called on the Green Scorpions to investigate raw sewerage flowing into the Fish River at Cradock.
The party's Midland's Constituency Leader, Retief Odendaal, says this will place the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people at risk.
He says he visited the Local Municipality's wastewater treatment plant in Cradock on Wednesday and was shocked to find it completely shut down, with no one on site.
Odendaal says this is an environmental and economic catastrophe that poses a significant health risk to individuals.
Algoa FM News approached the Department of Water and Sanitation for comment, who confirmed late on Thursday night that the information supplied by the DA is, in fact, true.
Spokesperson Sputnik Ratau says the sewage treatment plant is non-functional due to mechanical failure and all that they have done was to add some chlorination.
He says some settling of solids will occur in the tanks, but they overflow untreated into the Fish.
The Wastewater Treatment Works appears to be in this state for a number of weeks now, prior to the recent electricity cuts for non-payment and public unrest.
Ratau says their environmental Officer did visit the plant as part of their routine inspections on Thursday and confirmed they found the works in this non-functional state.
A detailed report is expected to be issued on Friday.
He says the Department is very concerned about the fact that the situation was not reported to them by the Chris Hani Districts Municipality (CHDM) as they are also not aware of any requests for any assistance.
Ratau says Chris Hani has had a poor record of sewage problems in Cradock and several directives have been issued to them by the Department over the past year.
Directives were for:
- pollution from un-fixed sewer blockages
- failed sewer pump stations
- non-compliance at the WWTW
Whilst CHDM has responded to some directives, the action plans have not been convincing and in some cases not accepted, as the failures recur at regular frequencies.
Some regulatory letters remain unanswered.
The ongoing non-compliance has been escalated.
Ratau says they will request National office to enforce an interdict to the Municipality to undertake necessary actions.