HomeBusinessEMA shuts down Chinese tile maker over pollution

EMA shuts down Chinese tile maker over pollution

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BY FIDELITY MHLANGA

Norton-based Chinese tile manufacturing firm, Sunny Yi Feng Tiles Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd, has been ordered to shut down by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) over environmental pollution.

EMA has also chided the firm which has invested US$50 million into its Norton-based floor tile production factory for not following abatement measures as set by the agency.

EMA environmental education and publicity manager Amkela Sidange said on August 15, 2020,the environment agency ordered Sunny Yi Feng, to cease all technical manufacturing operations, on or before August 16, 2020. This was after the company failed to comply with an order previously issued to the company on August 5, 2020, directing the company to establish emission sampling points in preparation for a sampling exercise to be facilitated by the agency, which was slated for August 12, 2020.

“However, on the date earmarked for the sampling exercise, the company failed to establish sampling points as had been requested by the agency; and further to that, the boiler and furnace were switched off making it technically impossible to do sampling; thus, deliberately obstructing course of justice,” Sidange said.

This follows observations by EMA that the company was not following abatement measures laid down in the company’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

To that end, the company shall only be considered for opening on the basis of the inspection and sampling results.

Contacted for comment, Sunny Yi Feng deputy managing director William Gung said the company had not received any official communication to cease operations, insisting that there were no pollution issues at the plant.
“I do not know that. I did not receive any instruction to shut down. If they want to shut down, they must come and we send all the 1 000 people home. I don’t think we have any pollution issues here. EMA sent their team to do the tests two weeks ago and we have not received any information to shut down,” Gung said.

EMA said it had since carried out ambient air monitoring by setting up micro dust samplers in selected households within Galloway community in Norton after the community complained about elevated emissions associated with production at Sunny Yi Feng.

“All these are efforts by the agency to ensure level of pollution from the plant is within permissible limits so as to prevent environmental pollution and also to ensure that the communities within Norton and beyond are safe from pollution. The agency has also gone a gear up by doing ad hoc monitoring visits to the plant, and carrying out environmental audits on the plant every month, instead of the traditional quarterly audits. This is done so as to regularly take stock of activities done at the plant, and avert any possible ecological and health hazards coming from unsustainable practices done at the plant,” Sidange said.

Sidange said EMA would not hesitate to cease operations when the environment and that of the health of the public is at risk until lasting solutions are found.
Sunny Yi Feng started manufacturing tiles in May last year. The company produces between 30 000 and 35 000 square metres of tiles per day, exporting 70% of the tiles to Sadc countries, including South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.

This is not the first time Chinese projects have stoked debate on environmental issues. In 2013, the Long Cheng Plaza Mall in Harare, constructed by the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Corporation at an estimated cost of over $200 million was mired in controversy with EMA trying in vain to stop the project on grounds that it was situated on a wetland. Last month, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu issued a warning after witnessing environmental degradation caused by four Chinese companies involved in chrome mining, quarry extracting, tile making and brick moulding during a tour of their operation in Chegutu district.

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