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versión On-line ISSN 2309-8392
versión impresa ISSN 0018-229X


DU BOIS, Duncan. "Hazardous to health?" Sugar mills and river pollution in Natal, 1869-1901. Historia [online]. 2018, vol.63, n.1, pp.24-44. ISSN 2309-8392.

Waste from sugar mills and distilleries deposited in streams and rivers in the coastal areas of Natal was the subject of concern and inquiry between 1869 and 1901. The absence of latrines for indentured labourers housed on sugar estates meant the addition of faecal pollution to streams and rivers. Successive legislative attempts to address the issue were defeated through the opposition and influence of those in the sugar industry, labelled the "sugarocracy" by an earlier researcher. Although the Wragg Commission of inquiry into Indian immigration advocated specific measures to deal with the pollution of streams and rivers, its findings were ignored. One of the commissioners, James Saunders, a member of the "sugarocracy", submitted a minority report in which he disputed the contention that the quality of water in rivers and streams was "hazardous to health". Besides, Saunders's standpoint, the absence of a major epidemic as a result of pollution of streams and rivers diminished the credibility of the claim that those water sources posed a threat to public health.

Palabras clave : Pollution; sanitation; sugar mills; health; sugarocracy; Saunders; Campbell.

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