Coast KZN

25 Oct 2017

Overboard container the source of nurdle spill

Holly Konig (South Coast Sun) Picture: (Photo Credit: Andreas Mathios)

A wind-blown ship crashed into another in the harbour, at least one severely ruptured container was flung overboard and into the harbour waters.

Reports indicate that the origin of the spill of millions of nurdles, said to be as detrimental as an oil spill, occurred when a container fell from a ship in Durban harbour during the extreme weather experienced along the KZN coast on Tuesday, 10 October.

No-one has claimed responsibility, despite the hugely detrimental impact the spill will have on the marine environment.

Environmentalists say the full effects of the spill won’t be seen for some time.

“The dramatic image of the ship that flooded social media on the day of the storm, as it ran aground across the harbour mouth and completely blocked the port entrance. It is believed that when the port’s tugboats finally managed to drag the ship free, its run of bad luck continued.

As the tugs towed it towards its mooring, it is believed to have again broken free, due to the strong wind, and was pushed into another ship. This caused some serious damage to the other ship which was crushed between the heavy container ship and the quayside,” a source told the Sun.

He said as the wind-blown ship crashed into the other, at least one severely ruptured container was flung overboard and into the harbour waters. He added that at about noon the following day, the damaged container was noticed in the water and hours later it was removed by crane.
Two weeks after the incident the plastic nurdles now litter the entire coastal strip, causing severe harm along their journey.

Di Jones of the Dolphin Coast Conservancy said this type of plastic pollution is comparable to an oil spill and it is a disaster in the making. The nurdles, which are used in the manufacture of plastic products, have littered beaches from Richards Bay to the Eastern Cape and there’s a fear they could end up in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Chairman of Coastwatch KZN, Chris Wright said Transnet is responsible since the container washed overboard in the Durban harbour.

The organisation questioned why environmental authorities were not informed and a general alert sent out. If the port authority had been more vigilant and on the lookout for possible sources of pollution, as they should have been following the devastating storm, it may have been possible to control the pollution at its source by using booms to contain them in one place.?


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