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Does your company store waste? Know your National Environmental Management Waste Act duties or prepare to face these devastating consequences

by , 06 February 2015
If your company stores waste, the National Environmental Management Waste Act (NEMWA) applies to you. And you must comply with it.

If you don't, you could face a fine of up to R10 million, a ten year jail term or both.

Since this is a risk you can't afford to take, keep reading to discover your five duties under this Act so you can comply.


'Comply with these five duties if you store waste,' says the National Environmental Management Waste Act

 
1. Check that the containers you use to store waste are intact and suitable for this type of storage.
 
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, when you select a container to use, always consider the amount and type of waste.
 
This way, the waste won't spill over, react with other substances or with the container. For example, highly corrosive waste can react with a steel drum and destroy it. To safely store this type of waste, use a plastic drum instead.
 
2. When you store waste, make sure the wind can't blow it away.
 
The best thing to do is to use strong containers and close them.

 
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3. 'Eliminate nuisances such as odour, visual impacts and breeding of vectors', says the Act.
 
Close the container properly so it doesn't look untidy. And to eliminate odour, wash your containers regularly and the area surrounding them.
 
Also consider the storage temperature and ventilate the area. Storing waste in the sun could cause a bad smell, says the Health & Safety Advisor.
 
4. Prevent pollution of the environment and harm to anyone's health.
 
The way you store waste shouldn't pollute the environment or endanger people's health.
 
5. Prevent accidental spillage or leaking.
 
It's easy for waste to spill or leak. That's why it's important to choose the right containers – it's the first step in preventing spills and leaks.
 
UBC Risk Management Services says to prevent spills and leaks, you must:
 
  • Ensure containers are in good condition and lined with a material that won't deteriorate;
 
  • Use a funnel when transferring liquids from one container to another;
 
  • Ensure outdoor storage containers are water-tight, rodent-proof and safe from tampering; and
 
  • Construct covered outdoor storage areas with impermeable basins to contain leaks and spills.
 
Bottom line: You have to manage waste in such a way that it's not a danger to anyone's health and the environment. Now that you know your duties, comply with the National Environmental Management Waste Act to avoid a ten year jail term or a R10 million fine.
 
PS: For more information on how to comply with environmental legislation, check out the Health & Safety Advisor.

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