Parliament displeased at lack of progress on De Aar demilitarisation plant

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A Parliamentary committee has expressed its displeasure at the lack of progress in establishing a demilitarisation facility for the more than 20 000 metric tons of obsolete and expired munitions at the Department of Defence’s Ammunition Sub Depots.
The Parliamentary Monitoring Group reports Portfolio Committee on Defence acting chairman Gerhard Koornhof recently expressed his displeasure at being told the facility will likely only be in place in 2010.
He said that the committee had visited the De Aar dump in 2006 and had been told at the time that the need for the facility was critical.
The dump – and the sub depots at Jankempdorp and Naboomspruit – contain over 20 000 metric tons of old ammunition that must be destroyed.          
Experts say doing so using open air demolition is environmentally unsound and would take a great deal of time. The advised solution is a demilitarisation plant where the ammunition can be safely disassembled with some material recycled and others incinerated.      
South African National Defence Force Chief of Logistics Maj Gen Justice Nkonyane said contractual issues surrounding the plant were currently being discussed with a construction company.
A Mr Zondi added that “planning had commenced in 2006 to have this plant in use, but environmental studies were still running. The commissioning of the plant should happen within two years.”



SANDF Chief of Corporate Services Lt Gen Jurinus Jansen van Rensburg noted that Denel subsidiary PMP could handle the destruction of small arms no longer in use. “That process could commence forthwith.”

The De Aar ammunition demolition range has, meanwhile, been re-qualified to conduct disposal through open demolition.
The meeting was also told that ordnance experts had demolished 1213 tons of unexploded dangerous ammunition in Mozambique and 280 tons of old ammunition in Uganda in financial year 2007/8.