Mechanical failure caused cyanide spill

2012-02-20 14:45

Johannesburg - Mechanical failure at a synthetic rubber manufacturer caused cyanide to leak into the raw water supply of towns in northern KwaZulu-Natal, the company said on Monday.

"It was found that mechanical failure of equipment caused contaminated water to leak into the storm water system," said Karbochem spokesperson Jaco Prinsloo.

"The equipment has been repaired and steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence."

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

There have been no reports of human fatalities, but the spillage did result in the death of 12 heads of cattle.

Karbochem has offered to compensate farmers and local residents in the area who had been affected.
"We take full responsibility for the 12 cows that have died."

Karbochem was in discussions with the two affected farmers on their compensation.

Prinsloo said in a statement that clean-up operations were completed and site operations had returned to normal.

Water now safe

After the spillage last week, the river was flushed and by Friday afternoon Karbochem reported the water was safe.

"[The cyanide levels are] far within the safe and legal limits," said Prinsloo.

He 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. It is below two parts per million."

Acting regional director for water resource management Jay Reddy said the department handed an investigation into the spillage over to the compliance monitoring and enforcement unit of the department of water affairs.

"Once the investigations are done, the department will decide what steps to take."

Prinsloo said he could not comment on any legal action against Karbochem as the matter was sub judice at this stage.

  • E=MC2 - 2012-02-20 14:53

    Cost cutting in disguise?

  • Linda - 2012-02-20 14:54

    Jaco Prinsloo, please tell the truth, stop lying we not kids. I knw what your company does at night!!

      PB - 2012-02-20 15:54

      Linda, please share the info. After all, the anc has not yet been able to force the Info Bill on us, so whistleblowers are still 'safe'.

  • Michael - 2012-02-20 15:10

    And if the press had not reported this, no-one would have even known. They would not have apologized, nothing!

  • Dennis - 2012-02-20 15:11

    Somebody human is still incharge of the machinery !! I go with @Linda !!

  • Don - 2012-02-20 15:40

    A mechanical fault ??? which mechanic LOL ! take responsibility and not just for the 12 dead cows but for the environment that was harmed. What if the next "little mechanical fault" kills hoards of people that live off that water ?. Karbichem act responsibly to the poeple that live off that water and our environment.

      PB - 2012-02-20 15:55

      Is this again a case of shoddy maintenance? I agree Don, there is much more than the 12 cows that is involved here.

      betsy.compaan - 2012-02-20 16:26

      that river was propably flushed into the ocean

  • Drees - 2012-02-20 15:56

    and i thought pooping in the river was bad enough.

  • Mouldy - 2012-02-20 16:00

    The headline is wrong, it should read: "Lack of preventative maintenance causes ecological disaster" The foreman responsible for that peice of equipment should be criminally charged with gross neglect of his/her duties.

  • marge.fourie - 2012-02-20 16:21

    Eish. Hy het hom gemorsd. Sorry

  • reginald.rogers1 - 2012-02-20 16:43

    Fantastic! Just dilute it and all will be fine!

  • Deepchund - 2012-02-20 21:05

    Mechanical failure does not result in product leaving the premises. Mechanical failure results because of poor or a total lack of maintenance. Spillages are contained in the bunded area or enters the the effluent system. The effluent system is treated to comply with DWAF's permit before discharge to an outside source. Spin doctors think the public will buy into their crap, they just make idiots of themselves. Anybody wondering what Linda is talking about, well I will enlighten you. Companies, and there are quite a few in the South Durban Basin,just let off untreated effluent to the drainage system under cover of darkness. Why spend on treating effluent when there is no return on investment. These same companies brag about their Corporate Social Responsibility Programmes, how many computers they have handed to needy children, stocked school libraries, the list is endless.

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