UPL questions why beaches remain closed almost a month after experts gave an all-clear for them to reopen

Umhlanga Rocks beach

Umhlanga Rocks beach

Published Oct 20, 2021


DURBAN - United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) South Africa expressed its concern over the delay by the eThekwini Municipality in reopening beaches nearly a month after their experts gave an all-clear for beaches to reopen.

UPL South Africa spokesperson Japhet Ncube said they had written to the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Environment (EDTEA), expressing its concern over the continued delay in reopening the beaches which were closed following the arson attack on its leased warehouse in Cornubia, north of Durban, on July 12 as part of the widespread looting that broke out across KwaZulu-Natal.

The fire led to a chemical spill due to emergency services not being able to immediately respond to the fire as a result of a breakdown of law and order in the area.

Ncube said the letter followed a meeting last week on October 11 between UPL’s team of independent specialists and the department’s external reviewer who has been appointed to conduct a peer review of the report that was submitted to the department on September 24.

The report presented the results of a chemical analysis of the beaches and seawater at the beginning of September and concluded that all the beaches and ocean outside a 1km exclusion zone, north, south and east of the mouth pose an extremely low chemical risk to the public regardless of whether the estuary mouth is open or closed.

“At this meeting, UPL’s team of independent specialists provided more detail on the chemical analysis and results and also answered all questions posed by the independent reviewer. The team also provided information on the extensive clean-up operations that have been funded by UPL since the attack and which have cost over R250 million to date,” Ncube said.

“UPL is of the opinion that all necessary information has been supplied in order for authorities to determine that the beaches are safe to be reopened.”

Ncube said UPL recognised the negative impact of the prolonged closure of the beaches on tourism establishments in the area as well as other economic sectors such as the local fishing industry.

It was therefore concerned that the decision to reopen beaches was being delayed and has urged EDTEA to urgently expedite the process so beaches can be enjoyed by the public.

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