Oil Spilled uMbilo River Clean Up And Rehabilitation

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Spill Tech work to clear crude oil at the Durban harbour

South Africa, Durban – Transnet Pipelines has cleaned up the crude oil that contaminated the Durban harbour and most of the spillage in the uMbilo River.

Transnet Pipelines spokesperson Saret Knoetze said work to remediate the area was ongoing following the massive spill that occurred as a result of an attempted theft of crude oil from the pipeline on October 19.

She said a large amount of plastic and rubble pollution along the river banks and at the mangroves had also been removed during the clean-up.

“Although there is no visible free phase product in the river two booms are strategically placed as a precautionary measure, one at the storm water outlet which was a flow path from the spill site and one at the harbour mouth,” Knoetze said.

“These booms will contain any residues that might be present in the storm water culvert and that could possibly be flushed when it rains. In accordance with advice from subject experts, the mangrove area will not be disturbed further and the natural biodegrading process is being promoted. The actual spill area has been cordoned off and remediation of this area is still continuing,” she said.

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Knoetze said Transnet had also removed about eight skips of plastic and rubble along the river bank and at the mangroves during the crude oil clean-up.

The pipeline is classified as essential infrastructure, therefore tampering, or colluding to tamper, is a Schedule 5 offence in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, Act 18 of 2015, Knoetze said. She said a criminal case had been opened but no arrests had been made.

“We appeal to residents or any persons living near the pipelines or driving past, especially at night, to report any suspicious activities, for example, bakkies or fuel tankers in the area of the block valve chambers or near our pipeline markers,” she said.

Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) spokesperson Bheki Mbanjwa said the focus of the clean-up was to remove any spillage that might have contaminated the soil.

“The clean-up commenced in October soon after the discovery of the spillage and will only end once the authorities, including Edtea, are satisfied the spill has been thoroughly cleaned,” he said.

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Mbanjwa said anyone found guilty of polluting the environment could face a fine of up to R10 million and/or up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

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