FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Officials from eThekwini Municipality, the Provincial Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are working together with environmental scientists to ensure that the pollution affecting the uMhlanga Lagoon and the air quality in the Durban North area is mitigated as soon as possible.
It is expected that the Fire Department will complete dousing the smouldering embers of the explosive fire at the chemical warehouse in Cornubia within the next two days. The warehouse was set alight during the riots last week. Firefighters had difficulty in getting to the fire when the building collapsed and covered the smouldering remains. The debris needed to be removed and the structure needed to be dismantled to make the area safe for the firefighters to work. The demolition company is removing the rubble, while the fire fighters are dousing the embers and flames. Unfortunately, this process caused a delay and more fumes to be emitted in the air.
In this regard, communities are urged to keep windows & doors closed & try to remain indoors when the smell is prevalent. As a precaution, it is recommended that public in the area wear a double mask with the outer layer being slightly moist to trap particles and fumes. Kindly seek medical attention if needed.
Release of Chemical Compounds
Chemical compounds relating to herbicides, pesticides and fungicides were released in the fire at the UPL Warehouse in Cornubia. A toxicologist is investigating all the chemical compounds that may have been stored on the premises, with a focus on the more hazardous ones. Sampling is being conducted for various compounds and results are expected shortly. Some of these are to be analysed overseas and results may take a little longer.
uMhlanga Estuary and Beaches
The public is also reminded that the beaches and tidal pools north of the Umgeni River are closed as a precautionary measure. The public is advised to refrain from all recreational activities, including fishing or surfing, bait collection and picking up of dead species. Collecting or harvesting of any marine living resource in the area is discouraged until the cause is determined and the threat has abated.
A specialised chemical clean-up company has been appointed to clean up the spill as well as any contamination on site and on the beaches. Specialist clean-up crews are on site to deal with the collection and disposal of dead species in a responsible manner.
Authorities are continuously monitoring the area to determine the extent of the impact of the spill. Thus far, there has been fish kill only in the uMhlanga Estuary and beach area and Umdhloti beach.
Please report any further contamination or fish kill to 083 253 6618.
To report air pollution please contact 031 3610000.
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality, Communications Unit. For media enquires contact Lindiwe Khuzwayo +27 (82) 883-6329, or
KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Contact Bheki Mbanjwa on 060 968 2417