Oil fouls Sobantu spruit

2010-06-09 00:00

A FOUR-DAY cleanup operation of the Baynespruit in Sobantu ended at 3 pm yesterday after a ton of edible oil had spilled into the ri­ver.

The fatty yellow layer was discovered by the municipality’s Pollution Control Officer at around 8 am on Saturday.

The spillage originated from Sealake Industries, which confirmed the substance was soya bean oil.

According to Sealake general manager Farouk Vawda, most of the spillage was contained, but one ton made its way into the stormwater system, which in turn found its way to the Baynespruit.

“It was unfortunate and accidental,” he said.

“Once we realised what had happened, we took the necessary steps to fix the situation.”

The municipality’s acting process manager for water and sanitation, Brenden Sivparsad, said, “This spillage was noticed while officials from Umgeni Water and Msunduzi Municipality were sampling for trade effluent in the area.

“Once the spillage was located, officials started backtracking up the stormwater drains to ascertain the cause.

“ … it was determined it was Sealake Industry’s” Sivparsad said.

Umgeni Water officials found a failure had occurred at a Sealake sto­rage tank at 4.30 am that day.

While Sealake tried to initiate the huge clean-up, the department of Water Affairs (DWAF) proposed bringing in a professional team to avoid further contamination.

At DWAF’s recommendation, a professional team took over.

“The spill was first contained — dammed to ensure no further pollution. It was then siphoned and scooped into drums,” confirmed Sivparsad.

The total cost of the clean-up amounted to R250 000, which has been invoiced to Sealake.

Vawda said the company is willing to take responsibility for the spill, and will pay the fee and be involved in any necessary reparations to the area.

Duzi Umgeni Conservation Trust’s Andrew Booth said he applauds Sealake for taking responsibility for the spill.

“Their response to the situation is admirable,” Booth said.

“If all companies report accidents and spills immediately, we can mitigate the effects it will have on the environment.”

Booth said statistics and tests show that the Baynespruit is one of the most contaminated rivers in the area.

Although the incident was addressed almost immediately, it may still have dire consequences for the river’s ecosystem.

“Generally, these types of spil­lages change the concentration of toxins in the water to the point where organisms just can’t survive,” Booth said.

The river will be closely monitored and the events surrounding the spill investigated.

“The Msunduzi Municipality, jointly with Umgeni Water, will be investigating the retrospective events and further consequences of the incident,” said Sivparsad.

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