Tweedracht residents up in arms over fuel depot Print E-mail
News - Aktueel
Thursday, 19 May 2011 15:38
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Tweedracht residents are trying to stop the building of a fuel depot in their agricultural area. The depot will contain eight 10 m x 40 m tanks, which is approximately 499 000 ℓ of fuel.

This diesel, paraffin and petroleum depot is planned on portion 10, a portion of portion one, of the farm Tweedracht 516-JR. The property is situated approximately 500 m south of the intersection of the Boschkop Road and the Donkerhoek Road, R964.

Neighbouring resident Wian Potgieter says that a fuel depot should be placed in an area earmarked for commercial-industrial use, such as those in Waltloo, Bapsfontein, Benoni, and Springs where the necessary infrastructure such as roads, piped water, electricity, security and fire brigades are provided.

Residents say that even when taking the greatest care, leaks and spillages will occur on such a site. The smallest leak of hydrocarbons from storage tanks or transport trucks and spillage during loading and off-loading operations can contaminate the soil and thereby the groundwater, making it unusable for human consumption.

“I and with me the whole community depend on groundwater to satisfy all our water needs,” Wian said. Contaminated groundwater may make the area uninhabitable. Depending on the quantity of the spillage, such contamination can be semi-permanent. It will also affect the value of property.

Residents fear that hydrocarbons will place a greater explosion and fire risks on the neighbouring area. A fuel depot fire could lead to run-away veld fires. Also, regular veld fires in winter may endanger the fuel depot. The local fire brigade is probably not geared to fight large-scale petrol and diesel fires.

Residents also object to the air and noise pollution surrounding such a depot. They say that hydrocarbon fumes emitted from the storage facilities will adversely affect the air quality. Noise generated by the tanker transport and by the on- and off loading procedures will negatively impact on the tranquillity of the rural surroundings.

In 2009 plans for a Bashewa fuel depot, consisting of 12 above ground level and 10 underground fuel tanks, were cancelled after a public outcry. In a letter dated 17 September, Mills and Otten Environmental Consultants told all interested and affected parties that the plans for the fuel depot were cancelled due to serious environmental limitations.

According to Johan Fouche, MBT Petroleum’s chief executive officer, the project wasn’t cancelled due to the results of the impact study, but in an accommodating spirit to the rural community. He wanted to make it clear that MBT cares for the community.

Objections to the proposed Tweedracht fuel depot had to be submitted by 25 April. Carlien Potgieter of Teropo Town Planners is the registered agent of the owner of portion 10, Gertruida Woutrina Le Roux. The property is currently vacant and its zoning is “undetermined’’ although the surrounding properties are all agricultural or rural residential.

A consent use application has been handed in. In terms of the Peri Urban Town Planning Scheme, the local municipality can approve any other non-agricultural use as long as the owner applies for either a consent use, if less than 10% of the property size is used, or rezoning, if more than 10% of the property size will be used.

The property is 9.5052 ha big and the proposed development will be less than a hectare in extent. According to the development’s motivating memorandum, the proposed development will make provision for eight 400 m² tanks, which is approximately 499 000 ℓ diesel/ petroleum and paraffin SABS standard storage tanks.

Each tank will be placed on a foundation or slab to protect the direct environment. There will also be an office of 300 m², a residential house with outbuildings, if required for the site manager, and parking spaces for six to ten trucks.

The motivating memorandum states that less than 1 500 ℓ water per day will be used for the proposed consent use. A Lilliput system or similar closed-borne sewerage plant will be installed for the residential house and office for sewer purposes.

No sale of products will take place on site. Six to eight petroleum tankers will transport the fuel from the site to clients in the commercial, industrial, mining, farming and retail industry.

According to the motivating memorandum there is a need for fuel storage facilities at that easily accessible location, situated very close to the R25, between Pretoria and Bronkhorstspruit. There is no other such facilities in the area; the closest being in Silverton.

However, according to residents, the main reason for placing such a depot in a rural environment may be the lower property prices and the greater distance to controlling authorities.

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