Search for source af­ter thick, oily sub­stance con­tam­i­nates the Duzi

The Witness - - NEWS - CHELSEA PIETERSE

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

Yes­ter­day 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 yes­ter­day morn­ ing 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”.

PHOTO: CHELSEA PIETERSE

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 yes­ter­day.

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