Written by Trenton DuVal, Development & Communications Manager, International Development Exchange (IDEX)
In the port city of Durban, South Africa, petrochemical conglomerates are pushing a USD $25 million Dig-Out Port expansion project that will wreak untold havoc on the surrounding communities, ecology, economy and safety. South Durban is a community composed of people who were forcibly displaced during Apartheid. Thanks to racist land-use policies, large oil refineries, paper mills, chemical storage facilities and other polluting heavy industries have been set up directly in this neighborhood.
Pollution and toxic chemical emissions have compromised the health of thousands of South Durban residents for decades. The majority of children from one primary school in the area suffer from either asthma or leukemia, due to nearby toxic industries. These problems will only be exacerbated by the massive increase in polluting industries ushered in by this expansion which aims to double the city’s oil refining capacity and increase the traffic of shipping containers from 2.5 million per year to 20 million by 2040.
Here are just some of the other anticipated impacts that the expansion will have:
- Clairwood Racecourse is one of the few remaining natural areas in Durban. It is a refuge for plants, animals and several endangered species. If the mega-project goes according to plan, this particular stretch of natural resources will be turned into a trucking logistics site that will add nearly 2,000 trucks to the streets every day. This will not only mean the loss of one of South Durban’s few remaining recreational areas, but also more pollution, traffic and damage to roads and infrastructure.
- Many residents will be displaced when areas like Clairwood, Merebank, Wentworth, Mobeni West, Lower Glenwood are re-zoned for industries associated with the port expansion. Farmers and farmworkers from the surrounding areas already have been told that they are being evicted to make way for the expansion. Little consideration is being given to the jobs and small businesses that will be destroyed by this project.
- Increased risk of climate change impacts, such as sea-level rise and coastal storm surges, could result from the Port expansion’s alteration of the natural landscape.
This project will threaten the homes, health and livelihood of thousands. IDEX partner SDCEA and other environmental groups are working hard to stop the large petro-chemical and shipping corporations from moving forward with the expansion without concern for the displacement, job loss and ecological damage it will cause.
Desmond D’Sa, the Coordinator of the SDCEA, has recently won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for shutting down the toxic Bulbul dump site in South Durban. He has now turned his sights on blocking the encroaching threat of the Port Expansion. Learn more about Desmond’s award-winning work and newest campaign here.
Photo Credit: IDEX