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 and violence in Durban. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters
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 and violence in Durban. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters

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

By Dominic Naidoo Time of article published Jul 16, 2021

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Our natural environment could not escape the negative effects of the recent civil unrest unfolding in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng it appears.

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

The City urged residents to refrain from all recreational activities, including fishing or surfing, collecting the dead fish for bait or human consumption.

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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.

It was the water being used to extinguish the blaze that then allegedly entered local storm-water drainage systems which feed into the Umdhloti river, eventually emptying into the ocean.

The City could not yet confirm this but warned residents that “the collecting or harvesting of any marine living resource in the area is temporarily prohibited until the cause is determined and the threat has abated. Authorities are investigating the source of the pollution and clean-up companies are trying to contain the spill”.

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

Writing on the eThekwini Municipality Facebook post, Cara Starfire Wade commented that: “The sea was in Umdhloti was actually bubbling on the shore at 08:00 this morning, dead fish washed up, the water was a milky colour with fumes rising from the crashing waves.”

Also commenting, local Marc Bentley said he visited the Umdhloti Beach and noted the many dead crayfish that has washed up onto the shore. There were also a few young surfers who got out of the water because of the strong smell of chemicals.

Video: Marc Bentley via Facebook

* Meanwhile the Municipality has also urged residents to assist with animal food donations for the Umgeni River Bird Park and the Mitchell Park Zoo.

The City said in a statement that “in light of the current unrest, The City is taking reasonable precautions to ensure that there is sufficient food for the animals at both the Umgeni River Bird Park and the Mitchell Park Zoo”.

The municipality has called on members of the public to donate perishable food items such as fruits and vegetables to help sustain the animals at the zoo and park until supplies are secured.

Donations can be dropped off at the gate of the Umgeni River Bird Park situated at 490 Riverside Road, Umgeni or the Parks District Office situated at 10 Ferndale Road, Morningside. The public may contact the Parks Office on 082 498 4418 for more information or queries.

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