Home News Sludge fire cost Sol R1m

Sludge fire cost Sol R1m

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It was pointed out that if the dry sludge was left to burn further on its own, it would have taken months to burn out.

LIMIT DAMAGE: According to the list of procurement deviations, the Sol Plaatje Municipality had to spend close to a million rand to extinguish the burning sludge at the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Plant earlier this year. Picture: Danie van der Lith

EXTINGUISHING the burning sludge at the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) earlier this year cost the Sol Plaatje Municipality almost a million rand.

According to the list of procurement deviations, a veld fire was allegedly started by passing members of the community, which spread to the dry reeds at the old irrigation and sludge lagoons of the Homevale WWTP. The fire ignited the dry sludge.

“To eliminate the health hazard and limit damage to the municipality’s infrastructure at the treatment plant, the burning sludge had to be extinguished and removed,” a report on the deviation states.

“This was to ensure that there was no further burning and harmful smoke and fumes were eliminated.”

It was pointed out that if the dry sludge was left to burn further on its own, it would have taken months to burn out, while the smoke and fumes would have affected the community.

Due to the emergency of the situation, a contractor was asked to assist with emergency intervention. A total of 19 040 cubic metres of material was removed over a period of 14 days. Equipment used included a 20-ton excavator, two front-end loaders and grader and a water tanker.

The total cost of the project was R976 753.

At last week’s Sol Plaatje City Council meeting, DA councillor Phillip Vorster pointed out that the sludge fire at the treatment works boiled down to improper management.

“We need to look at how this debris is processed and managed. A proper risk plan must be drawn up as this is not the first time that the sludge has caught alight.”

The council also approved the payment of almost R230 000 for the collation, editing, proofreading, design and layout of the municipality’s annual report for 2016/17.

Vorster questioned whether the company that received the contract for the work was the only one that could do it, referring to repeated mistakes made in the report.

“The text is copied and pasted from the previous year and the mistakes and dates are not fixed. For that amount of money, they should be doing a better job,” he added.

“It is not as though this was the first time they have done the report so by now they should be doing a better job.”

According to the deviation report, the company has been providing this service to the municipality for the last three years and has gained experience in this area of work. The report further states that there is no other local company that can do the work.

Other deviations approved were almost R200 000 for emergency repairs of the water leaks on the 965mm rising main and R700 000 for the manufacture, supply and installation of three scour tees on the rising main from Riverton.

Regarding the installation of the scouring tees, the report states that the rising main from Riverton has been leaking at the scour tees for some time due to the weld joints being badly corroded. “It is not possible to make repairs in-situ as the integrity of the pipe and the scour tee is compromised.”

The report further points out that the leaks on the rising main were severe and were causing huge water losses. There is currently only one manufacturer of pipe work and related engineering work in the Kimberley area that can manufacture and supply the items needed, which meet the quality standard for the welding and corrosion protection.

Vorster also questioned why these repairs had not been budgeted for and included in the original contract for the replacement of the pumps at Riverton.

“It seems that there was not proper planning in the first place. This should have been identified at the time, instead we are now paying for work that was not budgeted for. We need better management and planning and better skills to prevent this type of thing happening.”