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31 Oct 2021

Most North Coast beaches to reopen from Tuesday

(North Coast Courier) Picture: File. Salt Rock main beach.

Most beaches from the Umgeni River mouth to Salt Rock will reopen for recreation purposes from Tuesday, following the return of a peer-reviewed report into the water quality. The beaches have been closed since the UPL chemical warehouse was set alight during protests on July 15, leading to a chemical spill into the uMhlanga estuary.

All previously closed beaches, with the exception of a 1 km radius from the uMhlanga estuary mouth (1 km north, south and out to sea) will reopen for recreation, with fishing and harvesting of marine life still prohibited.

The announcement was made by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Ravi Pillay, once an almost month-long study was completed by British professor, Jason Weeks, an environmental specialist. Pillay said given the risks the “precautionary principle” had to be applied, and they could not rely only on one opinion – resulting in the report being sent for peer-review.

“We understand that the closure of beaches has had a negative impact on businesses and subsistence fishermen.

“We had decided to approach the matter with extreme caution given the impact that any irresponsible decision could have on public health.

“We are satisfied now, as specialists have said in their reports, that there is little to no danger in reopening the beaches for recreational purposes. Of course, going forward, there will be a constant review of the situation,” he said.