Engen says Bluff spill not their fuel

2012-11-15 00:00

OIL company Engen and eThekwini Municipality have denied claims by a community organisation that fuel had leaked into the sea off the Bluff in Durban.

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) pointed a finger at Engen in a press release yesterday, blaming the petrol giant for what it said was the second spillage of fuel into the ocean in under two months.

The city’s heavily industrialised southern basin is known for the fraught co-existence between residents and major factories. Activists use industrial accidents, big or small, to put pressure on authorities to demand better living conditions and stronger environmental legislation.

SDCEA co-ordinator Desmond D’Sa called for a public inquiry to examine all claims and incidents of pollution. “Leaks such as these result in thousands of litres of petrol being expelled into the ocean, affecting the biodiversity of the area and posing a serious health risk to residents living in the area.”

But Engen said there was no evidence of the company’s culpability. Spokesperson Tania Landsberg said “hydrocarbons” were found in a closed drainage system used by a number of big companies in the Island View complex, where vast stores of chemicals and fuels are kept.

“There is nothing to support the claim that it originated from Engen.”

The municipality denied outright there had been a leak into the ocean, saying a contractor was hired to clear various drains.

One of the drains was an emergency catchment for hazardous materials and, on inspection, hydrocarbons were found mixed with water.

“This mixture was contained within the drain and had not been discharged into the environment,” said city spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng.

The mixture was pumped into tankers and the drain flushed, he added.

An investigation was being undertaken to detect the source of the hydrocarbons.

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