Tue, 04 Aug 2020

Long job to clean Duzi

21 Aug 2019, 23:40 GMT+10

Dead and dying fish continue to be removed in huge numbers from the Duzi River and its tributaries as the massive effluent spill of fatty oil and caustic soda works its way downstream.

Yesterday, Spill Tech workers were still busy with clean-up and containment operations along the river.

When visited the river, they were removing scores of dead fish that had washed up at the Grimthorpe Avenue low-level bridge.

As the Msunduzi Municipality warned residents not to touch the water or let their livestock drink it, a Spill Tech employee described the removal job as "very unpleasant" due to the smell.

Willowton Oil Mills, the company responsible for the spillage, confirmed in a statement a vegetable oil storage tank had collapsed and in the process, brought down an adjacent tank.

"Two other tanks were slightly damaged. One contained sunflower oil and the other diluted caustic soda, which is used in the manufacture of laundry soap," the statement read.

The firm has appointed an independent professional team, which includes a structural engineer, an environmental specialist, a hydrologist and a river health specialist, to help deal with the incident.

"As a company we are concerned and committed to dealing with the incident and are proactively engaged with all parties to expeditiously resolve this.

"In addition to the environmental impacts, any impacts to water users along the Baynesdrift tributary and Duzi River will be reported and will be investigated," the company said.

KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has, meanwhile, ordered a proper investigation into the environmental disaster.

"We want to ensure that there has been compliance with the rules of the Environmental Act. We will ensure that those rules are adhered to. If there is any breach, we will make sure that those responsible will have to fined.

"They will also have to responsible in ensuring that proper cleaning is done so that the spill doesn't further contaminate and damage the environmental species," Dube-Ncube added.

The department is also working with other concerned stakeholders to inform communities downstream about the spillage.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the pollution had affected the Darvill water treatment plant, the main waste water treatment plant for the city. "These inflows were diverted into the storm dam there and will be held until visible signs emerge that the situation has recovered sufficiently," he said.

eThekwini Municipality has, in the meantime, warned residents to avoid the water in Inanda Dam, although Harichunder told that concerns about the dam's water quality were both misplaced and unfounded.

"Water is supplied from Inanda Dam to Durban Heights and Wiggins water works, where it is treated to the highest standards, using advanced and modern technologies. Water treated at these plants is supplied to parts of Durban, and the quality consistently meets and sometimes exceeds specifications for drinking water quality as contained in South African National Standards for drinking water quality."

Harichunder added that thorough investigations undertaken by staff of Umgeni Water had shown that abstraction of water from Inanda Dam would not be affected and that the quality supplied to the Durban Heights and Wiggins water works remains unchanged.

"Treatment at these plants is rigorous and potable water produced is monitored intensely so that excellence in quality is consistently achieved," he said

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