Mkondeni River ‘safe’

2017-01-25 10:03
The cordoned-off area on the N3 southbound near Ashburton.

The cordoned-off area on the N3 southbound near Ashburton. (Ian Carbutt)

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The clean-up of a 5000-litre diesel spill on the N3 southbound has been ongoing since a truck transporting the fuel crashed and caught alight on January 1.

The crash caused diesel to spill on to the road and into the soil of the median separating the north- and southbound lanes one kilometre before the Ashburton off-ramp.

Spill Tech, an oil and chemical pollution control company, was commissioned to clean and rehabilitate the area and has been on site since the accident.

Spill Tech general manager Terence Fynn said they had contained the diesel spill and that it had not contaminated the nearby Mkondeni River.

He said he could not say how long the clean-up process would take but that they would continue work on the grassy area in the median until they were able to get a clear soil sample.

The area has been cordoned off while Spill Tech works to rehabilitate the soil.

Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) general manager Doug Burden said that diesel spills were “hugely hazardous” and that the clean-up and rehabilitation of the area would be a “long-term process”.

He said if the diesel were to flow into the river, it would have a “huge impact” on the river’s wildlife.

Burden said the wildlife would not be able to tolerate the fuel and there would be a “big die-off”.

He said the sooner hazardous spills were addressed, the easier as it was to contain the chemicals and stop them from spreading.

Burden said Duct would be taking water samples from the Mkondeni River this morning as a precautionary measure, although Spill Tech had said the diesel had not contaminated the river.

The social economic development and road incident management systems project manager for the SA National Roads Agency in KZN, Nomsa Modise, said the rehabilitation process would be inspected closely by the Department of Environmental Affairs.

In 2015, The Witness reported a diesel spill of 37 000 litres on the N3 at Cedara.

It was reported that the clean-up would involve “big rehabilitation exercises”.

In another incident in 2014, a ruptured diesel pipeline spouted 200 000 litres of the fuel into Greenvale Estate in Hillcrest.

When The Witness reported the incident, environmentalists insisted that environmental ­fallout would be long-lasting, with fears of contaminated underground water.

GroundWork environmental justice head Bobby Peek said in the 2015 article that as a hydro-carbon, primarily derived from crude oil, diesel would ­suffocate the environment for years to come.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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