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eThekwini recommends that UPL be allowed to present specialist findings

In a report, the eThekwini Municipality recommended that United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) be allowed to present specialist findings which will include current and future remediation measures. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

In a report, the eThekwini Municipality recommended that United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) be allowed to present specialist findings which will include current and future remediation measures. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Sep 30, 2021

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DURBAN - THE eThekwini Municipality has recommended that United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) be allowed to present specialist findings that will include current and future remediation measures.

Other recommendations were that the eThekwini Municipality Community and Emergency Services Health Unit should accept the report as submitted for information purposes.

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Further reports will be included in combined city reports on the matter as and when specialist reports are received up until the final report is compiled in conjunction with internal departments.

These recommendations were part of a report that featured on Tuesday’s municipal executive committee meeting agenda.

The purpose of the report was to inform the committee on the fire at UPL and to ask for its permission to allow the company to present a report to it in that regard. The report also documented air quality monitoring during the fire incident, the sequence of events and action taken since the fire, specialist reports, reports to authorities and financial implications.

“All financial costs incurred to be borne by the company (UPL) as per the polluter pays principle,” read the report.

UPL recently reported that it had spent more than R177 million on clean-up operations.

The report said there was also an indirect financial “impact on tourism due to the closure of beaches, as well as a financial impact on small-scale fishermen”.

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The report stated that UPL was instructed to undertake immediate remedial action on-site to mitigate the environmental impact. The notice required that UPL comply with the following within set time frames:

  • Immediately: contain all contaminated water on-site and prevent any further egress into stormwater systems.
  • 14 days: remove and dispose of all waste at a licensed landfill site for hazardous waste.
  • 30 days: conduct an atmospheric impact assessment; conduct deposition sampling and ambient monitoring; conduct human health risk assessment and occupational health risk assessment; geohydrological assessment to be undertaken; and ecological impact assessment to be undertaken.

During the fire in July, the Fire Department confirmed that it was on-site, however, the smouldering continued for approximately 10 days, from July 13 to 22.

“UPL advised the health unit that they had employed the services of Spill Tech and Drizit to contain contaminants on-site and manage the impact of the run-off off-site. As well as to collect all dead fish and crustaceans along the lagoon and beaches,” the report read.

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On Wednesday, uMhlanga Urban Improvement Precinct manager Dewet Geldenhuys said: “Spill Tech continues with their efforts in cleaning up areas affected by the UPL chemical spill that took place in July.”

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