Poisoned KZN water safe

2012-02-17 22:28

Johannesburg - The levels of cyanide in the raw water supply for the KwaZulu-Natal town of Dundee and surrounding areas were safe, the company Karbochem said on Friday afternoon.

"It's far within the safe and legal limits," said spokesperson for the synthetic rubber manufacturer, Jaco Prinsloo.

On Thursday, cyanide spilled into a stream near the Karbochem site in New Castle. The stream flows into the Ngagane river which was the source of the area's raw water supplies.

Prinsloo said tests of the water revealed less that 50 parts of cyanide per million parts of water as legally required.

"The levels are very far below that."

Karbochem would test the water every two hours to ensure it was safe.

Prinsloo said the cause of the spillage was being investigated.

"As soon as we know the exact cause, we shall comment on this."

UThukela Water spokesperson Dumisani Thabethe said authorities were concerned about people using water directly from the river.

As a precaution, it broadcast a warning on the Newcastle community radio station on Thursday.

Residents appeared to have escaped harm so far.

"There is no one who has been reported to have been affected by the spillage," he said.

Prinsloo said 12 cows, not 50 as earlier reported, died after they drank the water.

The chemical content in the river was diluted after it was flushed with water from the Ntshingwayo dam on Thursday.

Water was released from the dam at 16 000 litres per second.

Thabethe said HTH, chlorine used in domestic swimming pools, was poured into the river before it was flushed.

Prinsloo said he was not aware of previous instances where cyanide spilled into the river from their site and Karbochem did not expect any further impact on local animal life.

"[Environmental experts] have been involved already [to assess the damage] as part of the disaster management group in Newcastle."

- SAPA

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  water
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