Nurdle hurdle: Clean-up of KZN beaches far from complete

2018-01-12 12:04
(Facebook/SAAMBR)

(Facebook/SAAMBR)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Durban - Over 40 tons of plastic nurdles remain scattered across KwaZulu-Natal's beaches, despite nearly three months of clean-up efforts to curb the damage of a container ship spill.

The spill occurred during a severe storm in October 2017 when a Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) container ship lost 49 tons of pea-sized, plastic beads, known as nurdles, into Durban's waters.

- Read: Shipping company cleaning up Durban cargo spill

Volunteer clean-up groups are frustrated by the slow response to the disaster from government bodies.

Judy Mann, conservation strategist for the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR), recalled that the clean-up was only initiated two weeks after the spill.

"It is a serious environmental disaster and a lot of lessons need to be learnt about how to handle these things right at the start, because that's when the most corrective action can be taken," she said.

Cameron Johnston, member of Salt Fishing South Africa, argued that harbour authorities should have made an effort to curb the spread of nurdles as soon as the spill happened.

"The nurdles were blatantly visible immediately after the storm and not much was done about it, and the container that was leaking the nurdles was in the water for a while," he said.

"I think that was a major contributing factor to the vast area that the nurdles have spread to."

Clean-up 'going to be long and difficult'

The Joint Operations Committee (JOC), which is composed of several national and provincial authorities tasked with the clean-up, are aware of the concerns raised by NGOs and volunteer groups. However, they maintain that they acted immediately and promptly following the storm.

"Our first priority was to float the aground vessels in order to clear the port entrance, safely moor the adrift and aground vessels, clear the port channel of any obstructions caused by the loss of containers overboard and safety of all affected by the storm," said Captain Saroor Ali, regional manager of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), a member of the JOC.

"Containment measures were implemented as soon as it was discovered that at least one of the fallen containers had held bags of plastic pellets."

The initial nurdle spill has spread from Kosi Bay to Gansbaai and only 13% of the spill has been recovered since clean-up operations began, according to data research by SAAMBR.

- Read: Nurdles infest Durban beaches after big storm

"It has become clear, due to the amount of nurdles spilt, and their size, that the clean-up operation is going to be long and difficult," said Zolile Nqayi, communication director from the National Department of Environmental Affairs, also member of the JOC.

Ali added that the JOC had no specific date set for the completion of the clean-up efforts.

"Clean-up operations will continue until the JOC is satisfied and no recharging of beaches [with more nurdles] is observed," he said. 

- WATCH: How you can rid SA beaches of nurdles

Read more on:    durban  |  maritime accidents  |  environment  |  maritime  |  pollution

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.