Water sleuth solves creosote mystery

2011-07-11 00:00

HOW did creosote from the recent accident on the N3 get into the Allerton stream? That’s what many residents in the area wanted to know.

Grant Fryer, the pollution control officer for water and sanitation at Msunduzi Municipality, has helped to solve the mystery.

The accident occurred on a stretch known as Apple Bend.

A resident of Neden Road, Montrose, whose home is directly behind the bend infamous for its many accidents, told The Witness that the name stuck after a truck carrying apples went down the same bend some years ago, spilling apples all over the N3.

Assisted by a curious resident, The Witness drove around the N3 and the stream trying to come up with a sensible explanation on where the entry point to the stream was, since no visible storm water drainage or run-off is visible on the highway.

It turned out that the drain is on the right-hand side verge of the N3 southbound lane and not the left of the highway, as expected.

Fryer said the choice to place stormwater drainage on the right- hand side is because the camber of the road feeds in that direction.

When The Witness visited the scene with Fryer,traces of the runaway creosote were still very visible on the N3 between the drainage point and the accident site, which is about 600 metres away.

“As you can see, the product ran off from the accident scene, down the N3 into this stormwater drain. The pipe goes under the N3 into the river there,” said Fryer.

Part of the confusion was why only the bottom of the Allerton stream was dammed and cleaned when contamination would have started upstream.

Fryer has assured The Witness that the clean-up occurred simultaneously on both ends and will eventually meet in the middle.

“The river up here had to be dammed to stop the product from being pushed further into the system.

“But the clean-up was further extended down the Allerton stream so that the contaminated water would not get into the Townbush stream. But there will be a complete clean-up in between,” said Fryer.

In earlier reports the Department of Water Affairs told the paper that the contaminated product extracted from the stream would be deposited at a hazardous landfill site.

However, The Witness understands that Water Affairs and the municipality’s environmental health department have approved for the extracted product, which lab tests show has been broken down into a clean liquid, to be disposed in a sewer in the area.

Water Affairs has not been able to confirm this.

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