Coast KZN

01 Sep 2020

Probe into oil spill now flowing into Durban bay

Zainul Dawood (Daily News: IOL)

Durban – Investigations are under way to determine the source of an oil spill leading into the Durban Bay from the uMhlatuzana canal.

A black oil slick could be seen high above the shoreline, mangroves and trees alongside the Bluff Yacht Club on Sunday night. The tides also caused the oil to stain yachts moored at the club.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) officials conducted a site inspection and took water samples. TNPA said the spill was reported via WhatsApp on Sunday at 6pm. A TNPA environmental specialist went to the site to investigate and discovered an oil sheen. A follow-up was conducted on Monday and the site was found to be clear of any oil pollution.

A large quantity of oil was found in the weirs alongside Soloman Mahlangu Drive, said South Durban Community Environmental Alliance spokesperson Dr Desmond D’Sa. His team inspected the canal on Monday. D’Sa said factories were not being prosecuted for their actions, whether it was flushing out contaminated tanks into storm drains or dumping fat and oil into the canals and streams.

“We need people in authority to be passionate about their jobs. This is ongoing which means people are not doing their jobs. It is time to name, shame and even jail people who pollute the environment. It is an absolute shocker what we saw in the weir. There was no clean-up plan initiated several hours after the spill was detected.”

Bluff Ratepayers’ Association spokesperson Ivor Aylward said the continuous pollution killed off marine life. Fishermen dubbed the area “Grunters Gully”.  Aylward said the weir meant to prevent pollutants and litter from entering the bay was not being maintained regularly.

Densel Wortmann, the Bluff Yacht Club chairperson, said it was disheartening to witness the pollution of the bay with oil, plastic and factory waste.

“We have reported pollution on a regular basis. Port authorities clean up and leave without any prosecutions or prevention plans.”

TNPA said these spills were usually the result of illegal dumping and the substances making their way into the port through the municipal storm­water network and canals.

The eThekwini Municipality had not responded to an email sent by the time of publication.