This paper seeks to map the extent to which civil society actors champion environmental justice in an industrial risk society. It examines the role of civil society actors in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, in being able to perceive industrial risk and push local concerns in development processes. The paper draws on qualitative and empirical research for a local case study in Merebank, South Durban, to explore how civil society engaged to organize and respond to local groundwater contamination caused by the German multinational Bayer, and also influence construction of knowledge around risk. It examines civil society networking to organize collectively and subsequent responses to government and industry during the risk assessment and remediation process. The final section engages in a discussion of findings and draws some conclusions.