Coast KZN

20 Oct 2020

Thousands of litres of crude oil spills into Umbilo River

Se-Anne Rall (IOL)

Durban: Durban-based environmental lobby group, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance is calling for action to be taken after hundreds of thousands of litres of crude oil spilled into the Umbilo River this week.

“Spill Tech is here to clean it up, but this is massive and it looks like it will be here for days and weeks probably. Somebody needs to be held responsible for this and we are asking for the Green Scorpions to send their senior team to investigate and deal with the problem to establish how this was created,” Desmond D’Sa said.

The spill is believed to have come from a Transnet pipeline. He said whoever was responsible should be held accountable.

“The pipeline should have never been used to transport crude oil knowing full well that the pipeline was closed when the new multi-pipeline was built. This pipeline that is still in operation should have not been used. We were informed in 2008 that this pipeline was going to be closed but we see this is not the case. No wonder we have the leak,” he said.

Spill Tech clean-up crews at the scene of a crude oil spill into the Umbilo River. Picture: SDCEA

SDCEA’s Desmond D’Sa looks on as clean-up crews assess the area. Picture: SDCEA

D’Sa added that there cannot be allegations of sabotage when the pipeline is corrosive and rotten and should have never been used for the transfer of crude oil to the inner refineries.

Spill Tech cleanup crews at the scene of a crude oil spill into the Umbilo River. Picture: SDCEA

MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, said a team of environmentalists will work with Transnet following the incident.

“As the department, we wish to indicate that at this stage, we are working with all role-players to implement spill containment measures to prevent damage to the environment. “It is for these reasons that I have undertaken to visit the Umbilo River and all other affected areas in Bellair to assess the damage to the environment,” she said.

The MEC said she will ensure that all spheres of government work in an integrated manner in order to strengthen measures undertaken by Transnet as part of cleaning and rehabilitating the source of the spillage and the harbour.

“Critically, we are calling upon communities to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that those who are responsible for vandalising Transnet Pipelines are brought to book. “I have been informed by Transnet that they have recorded over 80 incidents of fuel theft and incidents of attempted theft. They have also recorded cases of tampering with pipeline infrastructure with the intention to steal fuel,” the MEC said.

As it has been pointed out in various platforms, Transnet operates and maintains a network of 3 800km of high-pressure petroleum and gas pipelines from Durban to Gauteng across five provinces.

“We have a responsibility as the people of this province to ensure that we protect this valuable infrastructure which is critical for our economy,” she said.