Oil-like substance on road ‘friendly to the environment’

2016-05-24 11:01
Wildlife enthusiasts strolling through the Karkloof Sappi forest should not be alarmed if they see a black oil-like substance covering the dirt roads. The substance is an environmentally-friendly dust suppressant used by Sappi.

Wildlife enthusiasts strolling through the Karkloof Sappi forest should not be alarmed if they see a black oil-like substance covering the dirt roads. The substance is an environmentally-friendly dust suppressant used by Sappi. (Chelsea Pieterse, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Wildlife lovers exploring the Kar­kloof Sappi forest should not be alarmed at a black oil-like substance covering the dirt roads.

Amber Ridge resident and retired conservationist Pat Fletcher was walking his dog in the forest on Karkloof Road last week when he came across a the black liquid he thought could be an environmental hazard.

“The smell was terrible and my dog would not go near it,” said Fletcher.

“I was concerned that the substance could be toxic and would harm any wildlife that came across it.”

However, KwaZulu-Natal Sappi spokesperson Zelda Schwalbach said the substance was not toxic and was completely “environmentally friendly”.

“The substance is sodium lignosulphonate — a co-product produced from the hardwood pulping process at the Sappi Tugela mill, and distributed to Sappi forest roads in the Midlands area,” said Schwalbach.

“The usefulness of this product comes from its dispersing, sequestering, tanning, binding, complexing and emulsifying properties.”

She said the specific product used in the forest on the Karkloof Road was known as “HANSA SRL 45” — a dust palliative product sold to the dust control industry in South Africa.

It is also widely used in the mining industry.

“The product is being used on loose dirt and gravel roads in the area to try and lessen the environmental impacts of roads in the forestry landscape,” she said.

Schwalbach said that by suppressing the dust, it improved visibility, making driving safer and also reduced erosion, preventing roads from being washed away.

“The product has been formally registered with an MSDS [material safety data sheet] for this use; it is not corrosive and can be applied without special equipment or clothing.”

Fletcher said he was “thrilled” to learn that the substance was not an environmental hazard.

He said the dirt roads had looked “absolutely beautiful and clear” when he took his dog for a walk in the forest yesterday morning.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  environment

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