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Massive diesel spill clean-up under way, threatens river

Residents at Valkenskraal near De Rust are urged not to use the Grootrivier water both for human consumption and livestock following diesel spillage into the river on Tuesday.

Residents at Valkenskraal near De Rust are urged not to use the Grootrivier water both for human consumption and livestock following diesel spillage into the river on Tuesday.

Published Aug 16, 2017

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It's anticipated that clean-up operations, following a diesel spill of 42 000 litres on the Meiringspoort Pass near De Rust in the Little Karoo, most of which flowed into the Grootrivier mountain stream, will take two weeks.

On Tuesday, a tanker transporting diesel from Mossel Bay to Beaufort West overturned.

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Eden District Municipality Disaster Management teams have installed filters at the waterfall in the poort in an effort to contain the diesel. Although some of the diesel got trapped in the sandy soil next to the road, about 35 000 litres is believed to have spilled into the river.

Oudtshoorn municipality spokesperson Ntobeko Mangqwengqwe said the town’s disaster management unit is contacting farmers downstream of the spilled diesel to warn them in terms of the use of possible contaminated water that could pose a threat to humans and the environment.

Eden District Fire and Rescue Services said clean-up operations are done by Spilltech which was appointed by the company whose truck overturned.

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According to Eden Disaster management chief firefighter Freddy Thaver, absorption and floating barriers were installed to stop the diesel from spreading.

“The diesel spread 500m into the river until it was contained,” said Thaver.

Eden District environmental specialist, Nina Viljoen said: “The immediate environmental concerns are the endangered Redfin fish species within the river. Judging on the footprints along the river, there are wildlife or cattle who drink from the river and will therefore be in danger.”

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Cape Nature will bring in an aquatic specialist who will be able to report in detail on aquatic impact.

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