Search for source after thick, oily substance contaminates the Duzi

2017-11-15 13:58
Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust sewer monitor Nkosinathi Dlamini (left) and pollution officer Sanele Vilakazi prepare to take samples of the red slick that covered the Duzi in Camps Drift on Tuesday.

Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust sewer monitor Nkosinathi Dlamini (left) and pollution officer Sanele Vilakazi prepare to take samples of the red slick that covered the Duzi in Camps Drift on Tuesday. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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A think, red, oily substance of unknown origins is polluting the Duzi River near Camps Drift.

On Tuesday fish were seen flopping about as they tried to escape the spill by swimming up the Duzi weir.

A canoeist paddling along the river yesterday came across the red slick and alerted the Natal Canoe Club. The oily substance appeared to be most concentrated near the Duzi weir on Barnsley Road, Camps Drift.

Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) and the municipality were at the site on Tuesday morning to take samples from the slick for testing. However, the results will only be available in a few days.

Thick, gritty foam collected in some areas of the river and in some places, the water started to bubble as if a chemical reaction was taking place.

Duct pollution control officer Sanele Vilakazi said the spill happened overnight as the river had shown no signs of contamination on Monday.

“It does not have a chemical smell but it is reacting with the water,” said Vilakazi.

“Unfortunately, every time a spill occurs, it is the same case. The source cannot be found, the fuss dies down and a few months later there is another one,” he said.

“The effects of such a spill/discharge will most probably reach far beyond the location of the original spill [near the weir].

“Within a short period of time such a spill can impact on kilometres of natural habitat.”

He said if the oily substance washed up on the river banks of the Duzi, the oil would coat the soil, rocks and plants.

“When the soil is covered with oil it can’t support the vegetation that would normally grow there. Wildlife may eat the contaminated vegetation and become sick or die.”

He said if these spills continued, eventually the populations of fish and other organisms living off the water could be greatly reduced or even totally lost depending on the severity of the spillage.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said a sample has been taken and submitted to Umgeni Water’s laboratory for assistance and analysis.

“The product strangely has no smell, and a few major industries were contacted to ascertain if there were any spillages/discharges,” she said.

She said their water department as well as the KZN Department of Environmental Affairs had been alerted and officials “will continue to cover tributaries in the area to locate the source”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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