Poisoned KZN water back to normal

2012-02-21 14:31

Newcastle - The clean-up of a river after cyanide spilled into the raw water supply of towns in northern KwaZulu-Natal has been completed, Karbochem said on Tuesday.

"There is nothing new to report. Everything is back to normal," said spokesperson for the synthetic rubber manufacturer, Jaco Prinsloo.

On Monday it was established that a mechanical failure at Karbochem's Newcastle plant caused the spill.

Prinsloo said the mechanical failure had caused contaminated water to leak into the stormwater system.

"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, the source of the area's raw water supplies.

There have been no reports of human fatalities, but the spillage did result in the deaths of 12 head 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," Prinsloo said.

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

"We have received a claim for five cows from one farmer. We are still waiting for the claim from the other farmer for seven cows," he said.

He could not specify on how much Karbochem would pay per cow, only that it would be a market related value.

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

Cyanide levels

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

He said tests of the water revealed less than 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," Reddy said.

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

  • Rob - 2012-02-21 14:51

    "The equipment has been repaired and steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence", because we didn't bother, due to to the high profits we require, to think about pervention of chemical spills until we had our first one (that was noticed)... Woops, you suckers weren't meant to find out about our lax safety equipment that pumps chemical waste into your rivers.

  • John - 2012-02-21 14:54

    Back to normal can easily reverted to back to disaster. Independant audit (preferably international)how Karbochem disposes hazardous waste. Mechanical failure? the hell mechanicaly your production plant/storage is linked to the storm water Jaco Prinsloo? Karbochem can 'spill' in small portions and everyone will be happy. No control, no governance

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