Members of a hazardous waste cleanup crew handle bags of dead fish collected after chemicals entered the water system from a warehouse which was burned during days of looting. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters
Members of a hazardous waste cleanup crew handle bags of dead fish collected after chemicals entered the water system from a warehouse which was burned during days of looting. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters

Warning! Don’t collect dead marine life from contaminated KZN coastlines

By Vivian Warby Time of article published Jul 18, 2021

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Authorities are urging the public to refrain from picking up and collecting dead marine life off the Umdloti and uMhlanga coastline as they have been contaminated with toxic chemicals and could be harmful to humans.

On Wednesday afternoon, the eThekwini Municipality reported mass fish and crustacean deaths along the Umhlanga and Umdhloti Lagoons, north of Durban.

According to reports, the die-offs could possibly be attributed to the thousands of litres of run-off water - contaminated with hazardous chemicals - coming from an industrial chemical plant in Cornubia which was destroyed and set ablaze by looters on Tuesday.

The beaches north of the Umgeni River have been closed as a precautionary measure.

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In a statement, the eThekwini Municipality advised the public to refrain from all recreational activities, including fishing or surfing, bait collection and picking up of dead species.

Read more: WATCH: Durban chemical spill alleged to have killed scores of marine life

Collecting or harvesting of any marine living resource in the area is temporarily prohibited until the cause is determined and the threat has abated.

A specialised chemical clean-up company has been appointed to clean up the spill as well as any contamination including the marine life. Special clean-up crews are on site to deal with the collection and disposal of dead marine and bird life in a responsible manner.

Dead fish are caught in a litter boom in an estuary after chemicals entered the water system from a warehouse which was burned during days of looting. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters

Authorities are continuously monitoring the area to determine the extent of the impact of the spill. Thus far, there has been fish kill only in the uMhlanga Estuary and beach area and Umdloti beach.

The fish kill follows the toxic chemical spill into the uMhlanga Estuary after a chemical warehouse was burnt down during this week’s unrest. Based on specialist advice, the river mouth has been left open to help dilute the contamination in the lagoon.

Resindents are urged to report any further contamination or fish kill to Spilltech on 083 253 6618.

IOL

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