Regattas and other marina-related events planned for this weekend could be cancelled depending on the severity of an oil spill – and progress in its clean-up – on Thursday.
Point Yacht Club manager Darryl Williams told The Mercury he had been alerted to the spill in the early hours of Thursday morning.
“Paddlers reported to me at about 5.30am that their paddleskis had been coated in oil.”
He said that around 30 paddlers ventured out every morning.
“Oil spills are not very common but we very often have to contend with sewage leaks, littering and other forms of pollution. If this leak is serious enough, we might have to cancel the weekend’s event which will result in a loss of revenue.”
Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) said in response to The Mercury's queries that it had dispatched its emergency response team to contain the spill into the Port of Durban, which had been reported at 10.15pm on Wednesday.
"A thick black oil substance was found to be seeping out of the municipal stormwater outlet in the vicinity of Maydon Wharf Berth 15. The Port of Durban's Port Pollution Control Manager was informed and alerted the Port Manager and Harbour Master, before appointing Drizit Environmental to provide assistance."
The port authority said Drizit had confirmed that the substance was Heavy Furnace Oil (HFO).
"Contractors carrying out maintenance work at a nearby hospital have since taken responsibility for the spill and action is being taken to stem the flow of oil at the source.
"The Port Pollution Control department through Drizit has deployed a boom from Maydon Wharf Berth 12 up to the EB&H premises to contain the oil within the port. Drizit is also skimming oil from the surface of the water."
TNPA said in the same statement that it had alerted the authorities including SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the Department of Environmental Affairs.
"All port operations continued uninterrupted and there has been no disruption reported so far."
Port Manager Moshe Motlohi said: “The clean-up team is working as fast as it can and mopping-up operations will be ongoing to minimise any negative environmental impact.”