The Willowton Group’s FMCG firm in Pietermaritzburg said that because of the nature of the accident the investigation had not yet been completed, and further independent specialists had been called in.
The firm said its in-house corporate social responsibility team were working with the NGO Gift of the Givers to deliver humanitarian aid to affected communities. This included the delivery of potable water, as well as JoJo tanks and bulk water to meet livestock’s water needs.
In addition, it said a clean-up team of about 100 people had been working continuously since the accident.
A team of three recognised specialists had started infield monitoring and testing.
“Dr Van Niekerk from Infotox’s preliminary comments, supported by other specialists, are that the fish kill is the result of depleted oxygen and not a result of toxicity,” said the group.
The KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs said Willowton had done a lot to clean the river.
Spokesperson Nathi Olifant said the department had been supporting the efforts of the company as the biodiversity and the ecosystem of the river needed to be rehabilitated. Olifant said that in addition to the clean-up crew covering the area between the site and Inanda Dam, there were more crews at Baynespruit, Ashburton, Farrowdale Farm, KwaXimba and Mkhambathini.
He confirmed that as of Wednesday morning an area of around 10km to 14km upstream from the entrance to Inanda dam had been cleared.
“There is no smell or sign of any ‘milky water’ or dead fish. All dead fish removed are being bagged and collected for disposal in the landfill,” said Olifant.
He urged the public not to eat or sell fish found in the river.
Environmental activist Pandora Long said all aquatic life in the river had died, and that a herdsman had drowned while trying to get fish that were floating in the water.
In addition to the current clean-up, Long said funding for a long-term project was important.
She said that because all the river’s fish had died, alien species would start to thrive on the water’s nutrients, which would make it difficult in future for fish to live there.
Lucky Dlamini from the Kwa-Ximba Conservancy, said people had been warned not to let their cattle drink the water.
“The community is concerned, and we need to tell them when the clean-up will take place so that their lives can return to normal, and they are able to use the water again,” he said.