Dumped medical waste shuts Durban beaches
"Several Durban beaches have been closed and are expected to remain closed for the next two weeks after they were found to be polluted with medical waste."
Municipal spokesman Thulani Mbatha said in a statement on Wednesday that beaches from the Umgeni rivermouth through Beachwood, Virginia and Glenashley had been closed for the next two weeks while clean up operations continue.
He said the medical waste appeared to have washed up onto the shore.
“Municipal officials are working around the clock to ensure that all the waste is removed from the beach. It is estimated that the clean-up operations will take up to two weeks to complete. In the interest of safety, all residents are advised to use alternative beaches until it is safe to use the affected beaches.”
At a press conference on Durban’s Blue Lagoon beach where the waste was found in among debris that had been washed up on the beach, the Thembinkosi Ngcobo, the municipality’s head of parks, said that a member of the public had alerted officials to the medical waste.
The waste mostly consisted of tablets and sealed standard government issue condoms.
Ngcobo said it was not clear where the waste had come from, but that he believed that it was likely to have come from a company that had a contract to dispose of medical waste.
Although the waste had been found primarily on one beach, four had been closed as a precaution and if deemed necessary, more would be closed.
“We have closed the four because we are not sure of the extent of the waste.”
None of the four beaches are among Durban’s main bathing beaches and Ngcobo said no medical waste had been found on those.
He said that the municipality had deployed 16 staff members to clean up the affected beaches and remove not only the medical waste but other rubbish.
He said investigations would be launched in a bid to determine where the waste had come from and law enforcement agencies would be called in to prosecute if possible.
“We are going to stop at nothing to ensure that our beaches are safe,” said Ngcobo.