Company Explains Proposed Dangerous Storage

Native Storage Facility says it will not be importing toxic or radioactive waste to store in the country, but will be storing items classified as dangerous materials on behalf of clients who are already shipping such items through Walvis Bay harbour. Dangerous goods range from explosives, small arms and ammunition to ammonium nitrate and uranium oxide, all which are transported through the port on a monthly basis.

“What we propose storing at this facility is dangerous goods that are already in the town, and thereby we will actually make the town much safer. We have never stated that we want to store waste. We have nothing to do with waste, which is not allowed to be stored in such a facility. Waste is usually a very volatile substance and the moment you start moving waste you are creating a much more hazardous environment,” Managing Member of Native Storage Facility, Thomas Jonas, explained to New Era.

The company proposes making use of the old disused military bunker outside Walvis Bay. The use of the old military bunker from the then South African Defence Force before Namibian independence would merely be a temporary measure. The company has applied for the use of 10 hectares of land at Farm 58, behind Dune 7, for the long-term solution for the storage of dangerous goods. The Walvis Bay Municipality confirmed that Native Storage Facility made a presentation on the proposed project to the town council this week. However, the municipality spokesman, Kevin Adams, was tight-lipped on the official position of the council. “In the beginning the council aised the company to follow proper procedures, such as consultation with the broader public and they have started with this process,” said Adams, adding that the council would inform Native Storage of its official position within the next week or two. The Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) also said it is not engaged in the illegal handling and storage of dangerous goods, or radioactive material of spent nuclear cartridges and plutonium as well as explosives. Said Namport Chief Executive Officer, Bisey Uirab: “However, Namibian ports like any other port across the globe serves as a conduit to receive and handle various types of cargo, including dangerous cargo.” He added that “incompatible dangerous goods stored at Namibian ports are stored as per the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) segregation table. Special cargo, such as radio active material, explosives and infectious substances are not allowed to be discharged during night time and may not be stored in our ports. This means the cargo must be removed from our ports the same day that it is landed. For example, an application for the importation of arms and ammunition or explosives must be accompanied by a valid import permit issued by the Namibian Police and must be escorted under police escort from our ports to its final destination or in case of transit cargo to the border of the next country.” Since Namport’s inception in 1994, no nuclear waste or any other form of radioactive goods have been landed at Namibian ports. “The only exception is the export of uranium oxide (yellow cake from Namibian uranium mines). Due to the low radiation levels, this cargo is allowed a maximum of three days’ storage in the port before shipment. Pre- and post-radiation readings are taken for every shipment to ensure that naturally occurring background radiation levels are not exceeded,” he explained.

Uirab also said Namport has no direct or indirect interest in the establishment of a hazardous cargo facility intended to be erected by Native Venture Holdings. “We do, however, recognize that the establishment of such a facility may have positive spinoffs for the country. Our engagement with Native Venture Holdings dates back to 2012 and we have constantly been updated with the progress made with regards to the project. Namport has issued a letter of support for the project on condition that Native Venture Holdings obtains all the necessary statutory approvals and source their own business,” remarked Uirab. Some of the residents of Narraville, which is situated about 800 metres from the old bunker, yesterday told New Era they are particularly concerned about the storage of nuclear or dangerous waste in such close proximity to where they live. “We do not have a problem with other materials, but we have a problem with the storage of radioactive materials,” said concerned resident Stan Baumann.

Source : New Era