About this project

The CSIR is planning to build a biogas facility on their Pretoria East grounds. It is their intention to become fully sustainable. As admirable as the idea may be, this area is a dense residential area with many properties on the border and it could possibly affect the surrounding areas up to 3km or more.

We, as residents of the surrounding areas, are concerned with regard to what extent the impact and safety of such a construction will have on us.

Have you taken note of the proposed CSIR biogas installation?

We believe this to be a major threat to our neighbourhoods and well-being.

Please find below an abbreviated list of reasons why we oppose the proposed biogas facility on the CSIR campus, as well as particulars of persons to contact and web-sites on the matter.

We are all for ‘Going Green’ but placed in the appropriate position.
  1. HUGE HAZARDHIGHLY FLAMMABLE:  Biogas in essence is methane. Methane in conjunction with oxygen forms a highly explosive mixture, which in addition to blasting forces and shrapnel from exploded plant elements in case of an explosion, results in hazardous by-products, e.g. carbon dioxide, sulphuric acid, etc. Explosions seem to occur at biogas plants fairly regularly, for example, in the U.K. in January.
  1. AIR QUALITY:  Sulphuric fumes i.e. smell of rotten eggs. The wind changes and it may blow in your direction for days or permanently.  The 60% methane by-product is likened to inhaling petrol fumes – severely carcinogenic.  This aspect may have a detrimental effect on the socio-economic status of many businesses – especially restaurants – tourists will be loath to visit this area.
  1. HEALTH: The plant may result in a carcinogenic (cancer causing) environment. Not only physical but also psychological and emotional damage will occur.
  1. EXPECTED DEPRECIATION OF PROPERTY VALUE: Our greatest investment [our homes], which values had generally been keeping up with inflation, may not be able to continue doing so because a buyer may not be interested in buying knowing about the biogas plant and the risks involved. Hence our investment may not provide sufficient of an increment/increase for retirement, whether from sale or letting of our properties. The looming severe financial loss may also negatively impact the entire surrounding business development due to less disposable income.
  1. RAISED INSURANCE PREMIUMS: Whilst our mortgages may remain the same, our insurance premiums could possibly be raised in view of the increased risks to the neighbourhood.
  1. SECURITY: Extra security [CCTV, etc.] may be required as such a plant will inevitably attract undesirable characters and may lead to highly increased costs to the residents.
  1. INFESTATIONS OF VERMIN, FLIES, etc.: The fermentative “fluids” from the trucks delivering feedstock may be all over our roads leading to the facility – irrespective of whether it is Site 1, 2 or 3.
  1. MAINTENANCE AND STRIKES: What happens to the backed up rotting feedstock during maintenance breakdowns and particularly strikes?
  1. TRAFFIC CONGESTION: Trucks carting in feedstock will most likely add to the traffic congestion in our area.
  1. NOISE POLLUTION: There may be a constant stream of noise due to the electric generators of the turbines [24/7], which may impact on our current ambient noise levels. Trucks may be thundering past, damaging our roads, causing vibrations, leaving putrid droppings, all occurring within our highly built-up established residential areas. This could see the end of walks, strolls or biking in “clean air”, within the security of our own neighbourhood areas.  We purchased not only a view but also a life-style.  The feedstock (manure) is too far from the facility.
  1. BIOPHYSICAL IMPACT: There may be a biophysical impact as the sites are situated near the the world-renowned Botanical Gardens (sulphuric gases and acid rain) as well as the general fauna and flora of the neighbourhoods and the CSIR campus. The CSIR is “located within a critical bio-diversity area as designated in the Gauteng conservation plan”.  This is a Nature Reserve in a Green Belt Conservation Sanctuary.
  1. HERITAGE: Not only may our world renowned Botanical Gardens be impacted but also the highly internationally acclaimed and respected Innovation Hub, Persequor Park and the CSIR itself, acclaimed by many in the academic sphere. Both the environmental and human impact of this type of “clean” fuel generation may be frowned upon by those in the “green” world.  Their credo specifies that NO species may be affected detrimentally – including Homo sapiens.  
  1. FRESH WATER: It is believed that there may also be a risk of contamination of ground water and hence the boreholes in the area. If water were to be extracted from boreholes for operating the plant it may also affect delivery of our boreholes with consequential negative results to us as residents.
  1. STORMWATER: Stormwater could also be contaminated by the leaching of chemicals and biodegradables into the streams that eventually lead to the Roodeplaat Dam, with very wide ranging negative effects.
  1. RISK ASSESSMENT: Risk assessment is being done by CHAND, who are remunerated by the CSIR. 
  1. PLANNING IN SECRECY: From what has been gleaned from the Internet, the CSIR has been actively investigating the matter since 2014 with discussions going back even further. We were not notified. Not only does the CSIR already have an official Consultant Town Planner, Project Manager, EIA Consultant and PPA 16771 number [Planning Application].  “It is also on: ‘Open Tender’ with a time scale: From 2019 onwards.” Adding insult to injury, the CSIR’s own map acknowledges that this is slap-bang within a residential area.

CONCLUSION
Biogas facilities are designated for remote areas. Not within the heart of an area which is mainly residential in character and include a number of schools and retirement facilities, as well as business and light industrial parks such as Persequor Park, the Gauteng Provincial Innovation HUB, the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens, let alone the CSIR’s own research facilities and personnel who will be endangered.

The proximity of the N4 and N1 national roads is another matter for concern, but this falls within the auspices of others.

CLOSING STATEMENT
The risks referred to above may have a major impact on our neighbourhoods and ourselves, both physically and financially.  The financial loss of the depreciation of our properties would also not only be devastating to us and impact on the education of our children but also affect the surrounding businesses.

Kindly support us in opposing this scheme by registering as an interested and affected party and recording your objection(s). Please contact us should you have any queries or suggestions.  It will be to our advantage if such queries / ideas are lodged / discussed as soon as possible.

We have to be galvanised into action, as a concerned and pro-active community and also as a united front. 

You are invited to refer to web-sites below.

Note the: “proudly” setting up of web sites by the CSIR regarding this proposed facility.  Bear in mind that this could just be a general ‘assessment / test / probe’ to assess the vehemence of response from this specific community, or

Reference Material

This presentation was held in Nairobi, Kenya and presented by Patience Sigawuke of the CSIR.
https://researchspace.csir.co.za/dspace/bitstream/handle/10204/10204/Sigawuke_20518_2018.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Chand background document provided to residents.
http://www.brunalypark.co.za/cms/files/CSIR_background_study.pdf

Meeting of 28 May 2018 presentation by Chand’s Marielle Penwarden.
http://www.brunalypark.co.za/cms/files/CSIR_Biogas_28May_FGM_Presentation.pdf

CSIR Launch Web Site:
https://www.csir.co.za/biorefinery-facility-launch

Tenders are out for the construction
https://www.l2b.co.za/Project/CSIR-Biogas-Plant/16771#details