Durban - Dead fish and even dead cows were a common sight in the Umsundusi valley on Friday as the massive fatty oil and caustic soda spill from a factory in Pietermaritzburg worked it's way downstream.
As the eThekwini municipality issued an urgent warning to residents around the Inanda Dam downstream not to touch the water and not to let their livestock drink it, Duzi Canoe Marathon spokesman Ray de Vries took to Facebook to describe the situation in the valley.
"The spill is wiping out everything in the river as far as 60km already. Three cows that we know have died and locals are carrying fish away to eat. There is no sign of authorities at all," he wrote.
“This is one of the worst spillages we have seen in 30 years,” said De Vries.
Over 1600 cubic meters of oil and caustic soda poured into the river from the Willowton group's edible oil factory on Wednesday.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube expressed shock and disappointment at the spillage. The pollution reached Umsunduzi River into which Baynespruit flows. The pollution also reportedly affected the Darvill Waste Water Treatment Plant, which is the main waste water treatment plant for Pietermaritzburg.
“I can confirm this unfortunate incident. We are working around the clock to speedily address the contamination of Baynespruit stream, a small tributary that flows into Msunduzi River whose waters have also been contaminated as a result,” said Dube-Ncube.
She has also strongly cautioned communities along Umsunduzi and Umngeni Rivers against consuming or swimming in the suspected waters.
“We are also worried about reported incidents of livestock that has been affected,” she said.
#DuziRiverSpill It is understood that over 1600 cubic meters of fatty oils and caustic soda have entered the water in what has been described as the largest spill on 30 years @ECR_Newswatch— Nushera Raisa Soodyal (@nushera) August 16, 2019
Fish have now started to die.
Footage-Dusi Media Office - footage by Raymond Radebe pic.twitter.com/aYZ7zOcdxF
The Independent on Saturday