Acid spill nightmare

2011-07-30 00:00

BURNING throats, a foul taste in the mouth and damage to their garden and property.

This is what happened to the Southey family of Montrose on Wednesday evening. They are angry after a truck overturned on the N3, spilling hydrochloric (pool) acid.

“I’m fed-up with all these traffic accidents,” Marcelle Southey said.

Last month there was an accident outside her house which resulted in a creosote spill, but she suffered no damage to her property.

But in the Wednesday accident part of her boundary wall was knocked down and the acid has killed much of her garden and corroded taps, padlocks and door-knobs.

“My jasmine was about to flower,” she said, and her recently planted grass was killed “overnight”.

Gladys Mkhize, Southey’s domestic worker, was in the kitchen when the accident happened. She saw the truck and heard a jarring, whistling noise followed by two loud bangs.

Soon after the accident the fumes began to spread. Mkhize was “so scared” that it was a petrol tanker and that the white fumes were smoke.

She frantically woke up Southey’s son Michael (18) and her daughter to evacuate the house. The smell was strong and it “made my chest sore”, Mkhize said.

The company transporting the acid is Richbay Chemicals, whose director, Martin Klopper, said the area has been “contained”.

The company has neutralised the spill with agricultural lime and will “rehabilitate the soil” after conducting tests as to how far the spill had reached, he said.

“Luckily the tanker wedged between two banks,” Klopper added, and the damage could have been worse.

He said the rain was a blessing as the acid was diluted and the situation would be remedied within 10 working days.

Southey, who stayed at her sister’s house on Thursday and yesterday, was worried about the long-term damage to her property as well as the toxicity of the acid. She has noticed that taps and door knobs are corroding and that the carport roof has been damaged. She is worried about her mother’s car.

Klopper said that the insurance company will assess property damage and his company will address the environmental damage.

Southey said, “There is a major accident every three months,” and nothing is done to prevent them.

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