Coast KZN

22 Dec 2017

No holiday break for nurdle cleaners

Judi Davis (South Coast Herald)

The plastic pollution clean-up will move to the more remote beaches during the festive season

AS thousands of holidaymakers head for KwaZulu-Natal for their annual seaside holidays, those involved in the big nurdle clean-up will not be taking a break.

Instead they will concentrate their anti-pollution operation on our province’s priority estuaries and remote beaches to allow bathers and beach users uninterrupted access to the popular beaches during the festive period.

The massive cleanup of our coast commenced after the severe storm in Durban on October 10 that caused ships to lose their moorings. Two containers of small plastic polyethylene pellets called nurdles fell off a vessel and this has resulted in serious plastic pollution of the KwaZulu-Natal shoreline.

So far, at least 3,5 tons of nurdles have been recovered and the authorities are working tirelessly around the clock to track and recover as much of the plastic polyethylene as possible.

The Joint Operations Committee responsible for the clean-up consists of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa), Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Transnet National Ports Authority, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and South African Local Government Association (SALGA). The committee has met regularly since the storm to manage clean ups in the harbour and along the coast.

Over the past few weeks, the clean-up has moved from the Durban beaches towards the North Coast beaches of Clarke Bay, Granny’s Pool (second clean-up), Shaka’s Rock, Thompsons Beach, Mvoti beach, Villa Royale beach and Ballito main beach. Areas which have also been prioritised are the Tugela Mouth and Amatikulu lagoons.

Additional resources and personnel provided by DEA have been brought to sites and are helping to speed up the clean-up operations. Cleaners who have spotted different types of plastics and waste, not emanating from the containers, have collected this as well.

Captain Mkhize said he appreciated the support from volunteer groups and individuals who had assisted with the anti-pollution efforts. A number of environmentally aware South Coast people have spent time on local beaches clearing them of nurdles.