South Africa: Chemical Disaster - UPL Hunkers Down in 'Right to Silence' Legal Trench


United Phosphorus Limited has taken refuge behind a legal laager, refusing to disclose a raft of regulatory and safety documentation to Durban residents. It has also refused to fund or to take part in a new public forum to access more information about the Cornubia chemical disaster.

United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) and its media consultants ventured out to the frontline of public opinion last week, but very soon the company beat a hasty retreat to its legal redoubt where it invoked its "right to silence" and the "right against self-incrimination".

The UPL media offensive began on Wednesday, 20 October when the company issued another public statement calling on the eThekwini municipality to reopen several beaches that have been closed for three months after a cocktail of toxic chemicals poured into the sea from its chemical warehouse inferno.

The sea and beaches were safe once more, it said, thanks to a multimillion-rand UPL clean-up operation. The time had come to halt "unnecessary delays" and allow people to frolic on this coastline.

Japhet Ncube, former editor of The Star newspaper and newly appointed spokesperson for UPL South Africa, also went on radio, telling SAfm presenter Stephen Grootes that his company was "part...

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