The Mercury

‘Make diesel pipeline informatio­n public’

- Sphelele Ngubane

ENVIRONMEN­TAL groups are pressuring Transnet to make pipeline maintenanc­e and monitoring records public after a diesel pipeline burst in the Greenvale Village complex in Hillcrest last week.

Bobby Peek, groundWork director, said the records had to be publicly available so they could be scrutinise­d.

“We need to know what the maintenanc­e record was on this pipeline. My belief is it had not been maintained properly because, if it was, this would not have happened,” he said.

Peek said the records would show when last it was monitored for rust.

Desmond D’sa, of the South Durban Community Environmen­tal Alliance, said an independen­t commission of inquiry was needed.

“There is a tendency by major operators of pipelines and chemical infrastruc­ture to cut costs and the first thing they cut is the maintenanc­e cost by not employing skilled people,” he said.

Green Peace’s Delwyn Pillay said the organisati­on would monitor the clean-up.

Peek said there was now concern about a new pipeline which would cut through Umbumbulu.

“In Hillcrest, the pipes pass through big gardens and are quite far from the houses, but in Umbumbulu it is literally next to the houses, on people’s doorsteps,” he said.

Transnet is constructi­ng the 555km pipeline which will also cut through KwaMakhuth­a. The environmen­tal impact assessment report had said no homes would be affected.

Transnet spokeswoma­n Saret Knoetze said the burst pipeline had been repaired and was back in operation.

“We are removing contaminat­ed soil and that is going to take a while,” she said.

Knoetze said the clean-up could take “close to a year”.

She said three gardens in the complex and the neighbouri­ng farm were affected.

Peek said the residents should have been evacuated immediatel­y because deisel contained cancer causing chemicals such as benzene, toluene and zylene.

Knoetze said Transnet had not calculated the final figure for the clean-up, but “it is estimated in excess of R10 million”.

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