Coast KZN

21 Oct 2021

Beaches north of uMngeni River will remain closed, says City

Northglen News Picture: The beaches were closed by the City as a precaution to safeguard users against any harmful effects of the chemicals spilled.

THE eThekwini Municipality confirmed that beaches north of the uMngeni River, up to Tongaat River, will remain closed until it is deemed safe.

The statement comes after United Phosphorus Limited (UPL), on Thursday, expressed its concern over what it deemed as a ‘continued delay in reopening the beaches’.

The City’s spokeperson, Msawakhe Mayisela said the statement by UPL that beaches are safe is “irresponsible in light of the toxic chemicals that entered tributaries and the oHlanga River, the uMhlanga estuary and the sea. The beaches were closed by the City as a precaution to safeguard users against any harmful effects of the chemicals spilled.”

The City noted the beaches would remain closed until the national Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) considered the peer review findings to determine the environmental and toxicological risks, and related sea water quality for human safety.

“The review process has not been made any easier by UPL’s declaration last week of additional previously undisclosed product volumes, this after the submission of their final report recommending beaches to be reopened. The City understands the impact that the beach closure has had on the public and tourism in the area. It is not something that the City has taken lightly. However, it must be noted that the public’s health is of critical importance and this is our priority,” Mayisela said.

He added the City took the precaution as it was unsure of the types and quantity of chemicals entered the sea.

“The chemicals that spilled from the UPL warehouse in Cornubia were highly toxic and caused severe environmental impact in the oHlanga River and uMhlanga estuary. While extensive efforts have been made to rectify and remediate the polluted environments, the City still has the responsibility to ensure the safety of its residents and beachgoers and has therefore required scientific evidence that the beaches are safe for use,” he said.

Mayisela urged the public to be patient and comply with requests from the authorities.