Durban main beaches safe to use, ports still contaminated

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Durban harbour. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)
Durban harbour. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Durban beaches are safe for the public to use with only the port of Durban suffering from sewage contamination, the eThekwini metro council said on Sunday.

"The City would like to inform members of the public and the media that our beaches are safe to be used and the public is only asked to avoid the water at [the] Durban port," said municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela.

He added that 20% of the port was contaminated by sewage, but that a sewage pump would be used at the harbour on Monday.

"It will arrive tomorrow and be installed."

Hundreds of thousands of litres of raw sewage was flowing into the port every hour.

City Press reported that the eThekwini municipality's health unit on Thursday ordered the City's parks, recreation and culture department to ban all bathing on Durban's beaches until further notice.

Pump failure

An associated letter circulated by Transnet National Ports Authority, states that the "severe sewage discharge" stems from the "failure of pumps at the eThekwini municipality's Mahatma Gandhi Pump Station" - one of the deepest and biggest waste treatment facilities in the city.

Diving operations, essential to the port's ship repair precinct, as well as all fishing in the Port of Durban was suspended.

"Given the potential threat of infection to diving personnel, we have taken the decision to suspend all diving operations," reads the statement from Transnet's acting port manager, Nokuzola Nkowane.

It was reported that an internal Transnet letter circulated on Thursday said the City had taken out damaged pumps from the affected sewerage works, pending the arrival of spares.

As a result, approximately 720 000l of raw sewage is now flowing into the harbour each hour, reads the notice.

International surf contest, the ZigZag Durban Surf Pro, which was due to begin on Friday, was called off to protect the safety and health of about 120 top South African surfers as well as a dozen international contestants vying for entry into next year's world championship tour.

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