Oil Spill: Water Affairs promises clean Duzi for canoe race

2008-12-17 00:00

Despite concerns about the impact of a recent palm oil leak on the Msunduzi River, an assurance has been given that these “minor” setbacks will be taken care of in time for the Dusi Canoe Marathon.

“We’re on top of it … We’ve dealt with worse situations leading to the race in previous years,” said Lin Gravelet-Blondin, deputy director for water quality management with the department of Water Affairs and Forestry.

Although the department and Capital Soaps managed to prevent any of the oil reaching the Duzi via the Baynespruit, the potential blockages in the sewers from the oil that managed to get out is extremely worrying.

The Witness reported this week that a tank at the Capital Soaps factory, containing palm oil used to make soap, leaked extensively as a result of a failed valve.

An estimated two to three tons of the oil reached the surrounding water sources — the river and sewerage system.

Because of the cold rainwater that day, a large amount of the oil has solidified.

“If the oil which has solidified in the sewers causes blockages then a situation may arise where there is a loss of capacity and sewage may seep into the [Duzi]. So it is more a concern of capacity,” said Dave Still, chairman of the Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust.

Gravelet-Blondin conceded that oil in the sewerage system might be problematic, but he assured the media that Capital Soaps will employ a clean-up team to take care of the mess long before the race.

“I’ve told them to sort out the situation … and I’ll be checking up on them regularly. I was actually on site today,” he said.

He said the clean-up will involve the use of high-pressure warm-water cleaners and added that Capital Soaps has worked tirelessly to minimise the spread of the oil.

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