MISSION 27 and 30 of 2010
Name of Mission: Sappi Paper Stanger Mill
Date of Mission: 14th August 2010
Aircraft used: FoxBat
Pilot: Brett Hill
Beneficiary: Paul Dutton
Objective of the Flight
To check out the situation at Sappi’s Paper Mill at Stanger which is causing concern for the ecological status of the Mvothi River, estuary and beach.
Beneficiary’s story of the mission: By Paul Dutton
“Not having my own Spirit of the Wilderness at my disposal, I called on The Bateleurs and their pilot Brett Hill to fly me over Sappi’s Paper Mill at Stanger, to check concerns regarding the ecological status of the Mvothi River, estuary and beach. Brett and in his Fox Bat ZU ELi performed the task admirably.The mill started its operations in 1976 when the Mvothi River was one of KZN North Coast’s most pristine rivers and estuary, earning it the designation of a National Heritage site with charismatic birds such as the locally rare and nesting Redwinged Pratincole, a number of endemic fish, and a beach that attracted large numbers of holiday makers and local folk from Stanger. This amicable situation of an industry caring for the quality of water passing out of its factory and biodiversity prevailed until 2006 when something happened at the plant that poisoned the river and atmosphere to the point where the river below the mill became sterile without fish and water-fowl. Also, residents of Blythedale living near downwind of the mill were being gagged by noxious sulfurous smells. The once Blue Flag Beach was given a miss. It was because large amounts of bleach had been added to Sappi’s production line to make their paper whiter and glossier than before.
I alerted a number of environmental lobbyists, the upshot of which was a call from Sappi calling for a meeting with me at the factory Monday 14the November. I did not go there to blame nor shame them, but to suggest that if they stopped the bleaching process and produced the same quality of paper as in the past – that did not impact on the local ecosystem – they would earn lots of greenie points and be ahead of their competitors in being the more eco compliant paper producer.
Let’s see if my intervention bears fish and fowl!”