Values and concerns in decision-making about a waste-reduction incinerator at Stormsriver, Tsitsikamma : a case study in applied ethics

Maharajh, Rajinder Jain (2003-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

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Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The Tsitsikamma Forest, in the most southern part of the Eastern Cape, is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of six such Kingdoms in the world. It has the richest area of plant bio-diversity and fauna in the world which are rare and endemic to the area. The deep gorges, temperate forests, un spoilt oceans and various other features such as the famous Bloukrantz River Bridge, where the world's highest bungi jumps take place are factors that have become the main source of job-creation and income for tourism and its inter-related activities. However, this ecosystem is also home to about 480 families who live in low-income housing at Stormsriver. This settlement which was relocated from the shack area of Coesa, nearby, has an unemployment index of 67% and a similar poverty index. In addition, the Stormsriver Village nearby has a population of about 300 families, mainly older retired white folks. The area is administered by the Koukamma Municipality which is an amalgam of several smaller municipalities viz., Clarkeson, Kareedouw, Stormsriver, Woodlands, Eerste River, ]oubertina and Bloukrantz. Waste reduction and the disposal thereof has always been a major concern to local authorities and the Koukamma Municipality is obviously faced with the same challenge. The authorities have resorted to the concept of landfill sites, which has proven to be the cheapest solution to date. But, with this option comes the problems of health risks to the poorer people who converge on the dump sites in search of food, the harm to children searching through rubbish heaps and the various legal repercussions emanating out of this practice. The option of open-burning and its related effects on human life and forest fires rules it out as an option. Transporting waste out of the area is also very costly. It was then resolved by the Koukamma Municipalities that the possibility of installing an incinerator at Stormsriver would be an option to be investigated. The reasoning behind the selection of this site was the concern of high unemployment in the Stormsriver area and extreme poverty and this venture would in some small measure create jobs, put food on the table and break the poverty cycle. The process of incineration gives rise to emissions such as dioxins and furans which is known to cause cancer, asthma and tuberculosis, if subjected in high doses over a long period of time. It is also regulated by the Atmospheric Pollution Act 45 of 1965. The important moral debate at the core of this problem is the whole question of humans rights and should these be violated solely because the subjects do not belong to an affluent class and should be shown less respect and have their health jeopardised by the toxic air from incineration. Or, should the people's poverty index rise further due to lack of employment. The question that also begs here is whether the well-being of the entire ecosystem, especially the rare and endangered plants and animals take preference over the well-being of the people of Stormsriver, given that the emissions from the incinerator will impact on the animal, bird and plant life, including that of water, soil and air. This would also put into jeopardy the income generated by Tourism and the jobs inherent in it for the locals and would threaten the area's sustainability. The various moral views of philosophers have been canvassed in order to come to a holistic understanding. I have in this vein looked at the views of ethicists such as Tibor Machan, who believes that animals and other organisms do not have any rights and are there purely for human consumption. Then the views of Peter Singer and Tom Regan have also been included, in which consideration is shown to animals. Others such as AIda Leopold, J. Baird Callicott and Paul Taylor whose thinking extends to that of not just showing respect for a single entity but allows for equal respect for all members of the biotic community, have also been. considered. Various solutions have thereafter been considered and amongst those are the relocation of the incinerator out of the Stormsriver, moving the plant to the industrial zone at Kareedouw, transporting the waste out to Port Elizabeth, dumping and finally the 'Do Nothing' option. Using Paul Taylor's "respect for nature" ethics as a guide, I have come to the conclusion that the installation of a waste-reduction incinerator at Stormsriver, Tsitsikamma, may be supported subject to a set of serious riders and conditions in that firstly, the health of the immediate and surrounding inhabitants should not be affected in any way whatsoever. Secondly, the well-being of the non-human environment which must include air, soil, water and plant life, including the animal and bird life must not be harmed in any way. In this way all members of the biotic community will be shown equal respect, thus creating a viable and sustainable community

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die Tsitsikamma Woude, in die mees suidelike deel van the Oos-Kaap, is deel van die "Cape Floral Kingdom", een van ses sulke woudgebiede in die wêreld. Dit beskerm die rykste area van plant bio-verskeidenheid asook fauna wat skaars is in die wêreld en slegs daar gevind word. Die diep bergpasse. gemagtigde woude en ongerepte oseaan, tesame met die beroemde Bloukransrivier brug waar die wêreld se hoogste bungi spronge plaasvind is faktore wat bygedra het dat werkskepping en inkomste hoofsaaklik uit toerisme en verwante bedrywe afkomstig is. Hierdie eko-sisteem is ook die tuiste vir ongeveer 480 gesinne wat in sub-ekonomiese huise in Stormsrivier woon. Hierdie gemeenskappie wat vanaf die naby geleë Coesa hervesig is, het 'n werkloosheid sowel as armoede syfer van 67%. Bykomend is daar die Stormsriver nedersetting daar naby met 'n bevolking van 300 families, hoofsaaklik ouer, afgetrede blankes. Die gebied word bestuur deur die Koukamma Munisipaliteit wat in 'n samesmelting van 'n hele paar kleiner munisipaliteite is o.a Clarkson, Kareedouw, Stormsrivier, Woodlands, Eerste Rivier, ]oubertina en Bloukrans. Die vermindering van afvalstowwe asook die verwydering daarvan was maar altyd 'n groet kopseer vir die plaaslike owerhede en dit geld nou ook vir die Koukamma Munisipaliteit. Die owerhede het besluit op die konsep van afvalstortings areas omdat dit die goedkoopste oplossing tot nou toe is. Met hierdie opsie kom egter die probleem van gesondheids risiko's vir die armer gemeenskappe (mense) wat op hierdie stortings terreine toesak op soek na kos, die beserings wat kinders opdoen wat die gemors deursoek asook die wettige terugslag wat hierdie praktyk totgevolg het. Die gevaar van oop vure en die effek wat dit sou hê op mense en die woud self maak dat hierdie opsie nie oorweeg word nie. Ook is dit te duur om afvalstowwe uit die gebied uit te vervoer. Die Koukamma Munisipaliteit het toe besluit om die instállering van 'n verbrandingsoond by Stormsrivier te ondersoek. Die rede om hierdie gebied te kies was die hoë werkloosheid syfer en armoede in Stormsrivier. Hierdie besluit sou werkskepping, kos op die tafel en die verbreking van die armoede-siklus tot gevolg hê. Die proses van verbranding het aanleiding gegee tot die nuwe gevare van skadelike afval produkte van dioksiede en furane wat kanker, asma en tuberkulose tot gevolg het as mense vir lang periodes aan hoë dosisse blootgestel word. Hierdie uitstraling word ook deur die "Atmosferiese Besoedelingswet 45 van 1965" gereguleer. Die belangrike morele debat wat die kern van hierdie probleem vorm is die vraag na menseregte en of die menseregte geskend kan word bloot omdat die mense in die gebied nie aan 'n gegoede klas behoort nie moet daar minder respek aan hulle getoon word en moet hul gesondheid in die weeg skaal geplaas word deur die giftige lug as gevolg van die verbrandering van afvalstowwe, of moet werkloosheid verder styg as gevolg van die gebrek aan werk? Die ander vraag wat gevra moet word is of die welvaart van die hele ekosisteem, veral die van skaars en bedreigde plante en diere voorkeur moet geniet bo die welvaart van die mense van Stormsrivier gegee die feit dat die uitstraling van die verbrandingsoond ook 'n inpak gaan hê op die diere, voëls en plant lewe inkluisend op water, grond en lug. Dit sal ook die inkomste wat uit Toerisme voort gebring word, en die werksgeleenthede vir die plaaslike mense wat daarmee gepaard gaan, in die weegskaal plaas asook die gebied se standhoudendheid bedreig. Die verskeie standpunte van filosowe is na gekyk ten einde tot 'n holistiese verstaan van die situasie te kom. Langs hierdie weg het ek dan na die etiese standpunt van Tibor Machan gekyk. Tibor Machan glo dat diere en ander organismes geen regte het nie en dat hulle daar is vir die uitsluitlike gebruik deur mense. Die standpunte van Peter Singer en Tom Regan, wat 'n mate van sorgsaamheid teenoor diere toon, is ook in ag geneem. Andere wie se standpunte in ag geneem is, is Aldo Leipold,J. Baird Callicot and Paul Taylor. Hulle denkrigting maak voorsiening daarvoor dat respek nie net aan 'n enkele entiteit getoon moet word nie, maar aan almal wat in 'n biotiese gemeenskap saamwoon. Verskeie oplossings is hierna oorweeg onder andere die verskuiwing van die verbrandingsoond buite Stormsrivier na die industriële gebied in Kareedouw, die vervoer van die afval na Port Elizabeth, storting asook die "Doen Niks" opsie. Ek het as etiese riglyn Paul Tayor se "respekteer vir natuur" gebruik en het tot die slotsoom gekom dat die iristallering van 'n afval verminderings verbrandingsoond te Stormsrivier ondersteun kan word met ernstige voorbehoude en voorwaardes deurdat, eerstens, die gesondheid van die onmiddelike en omliggende inwoners op geen manier hoegenaamd aangetas moet word nie. Tweedens, die welvaart van die nie-lewende omgewing met inagneming van lug, grond, water en plantlewe, insluitende die diere en voëls moet op geen manier geskaad word nie. Op hieride maruer sal almal wat deel uitmaak van die biotiese gemeenskap gelyke respek betoon word wat die daarstelling van 'n lewensvatbare en standhoudende gemeenskap tot gevolg sal hê.

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