UPL concerned over delayed reopening of Durban beaches

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Beaches in the north of Durban remain closed. PHOTO: Supplied
Beaches in the north of Durban remain closed. PHOTO: Supplied

United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) is concerned that Durban beaches are still closed.

The chemical company’s spokesperson, Japhet Ncube, said in a press statement on Wednesday that its legal team has written to the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Environment (EDTEA) regarding its concerns about the eThekwini Municipality’s delays in reopening the beaches.

The beaches in the north of Durban were closed following the arson attack on UPL’s leased warehouse in Cornubia during July’s unrest. The fire led to a chemical spill due to emergency services not being able to immediately respond to the fire.

Ncube said that the letter was submitted after a meeting between UPL’s team of independent specialists and the department’s external reviewer, who has been appointed to conduct a peer review of the report that was submitted to the department in September.

“The report presented the results of a chemical analysis of the beaches and sea water at the beginning of September and concluded that all the beaches and ocean outside a 1km exclusion zone, north, south and east of the mouth pose an extremely low chemical risk to the public regardless of whether the estuary mouth is open or closed,” said Ncube.

Ncube added that at the meeting UPL’s team of independent specialists provided more details on the chemical analysis and results and also answered all questions posed by the independent reviewer.

The team also provided information on the extensive clean-up operations that have been funded by UPL since the attack and which have cost over R250 million to date.

Ncube said that they are of the opinion that all necessary information has been supplied in order for authorities to determine that the beaches are safe to be reopened, and that they recognise the negative impact of the closure on tourism establishments and other economic sectors such as the local fishing industry.

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