Shark Spotters, the local community and the City spent the weekend attempting to manage the waste and clean up at Witsands Beach after a historic landfill site burst open due to heavy rainfall. Picture: Shark Spotters
Shark Spotters, the local community and the City spent the weekend attempting to manage the waste and clean up at Witsands Beach after a historic landfill site burst open due to heavy rainfall. Picture: Shark Spotters

Old landfill site bursts open, releasing waste on to Witsands Beach

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Aug 30, 2021

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Cape Town - The heavy rains during the recent cold front caused an old municipal landfill to burst open under the sand dunes at Witsands Beach and release decades of old rubbish into the sea.

This was said to be the worst breach of the landfill site in about 20 years and would affect marine life significantly.

City Coastal Management manager Gregg Oelofse said the landfill site was from the 1960s and 1970s and had serviced Scarborough, Kommetjie, Ocean View and Misty Cliffs.

“For the past 20 years, we have been managing the windblown sands and keeping a cap on the landfill site. We keep the sand dunes on top so it does not get exposed. However, the unexpected high volume of rainfall in Kommetjie on Thursday created a kind of sheet run-off across the beach, which exposed the cap of the landfill site,” said Oelofse.

Shark Spotters, the local community and City officials spent the weekend attempting to manage the waste and clean up as much as possible. The Shark Spotters team also installed nets further up in the dunes to trap prevent more waste from coming down on to the beach.

Shark Spotters, the local community and the City spent the weekend attempting to manage the waste and clean up at Witsands Beach after a historic landfill site burst open due to heavy rainfall. Picture: Shark Spotters

Shark Spotters chief executive Sarah Waries said the water bodies at the back of the dunes needed to be diverted to prevent more water from bursting through the landfill site.

“Unfortunately, the City was unable to access a digger until early next week, so as an emergency intervention, Shark Spotters and the City’s Coastal Management Team organised an external service provider to bring a digger to the dunes yesterday and open a channel around the landfill site before further rain arrived on Monday,” said Waries.

In a post on Facebook, the Scarborough Environmental Group said this was the worst breach of the landfill site in about 20 years, and it would have a significant effect on marine life.

“It’s a shocker that it was thought to be a good idea to place a landfill site on a beach in 1970, but what’s so much worse is that five decades down the line, we are all still consuming and tossing away such huge volumes of waste and plastic,” said Project Noordhoeked founder and manager Karoline Hanks.

Shark Spotters, the local community and the City spent the weekend attempting to manage the waste and clean up at Witsands Beach after a historic landfill site burst open due to heavy rainfall. Picture: Shark Spotters

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Cape Argus

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