DURBAN – EThekwini municipality authorities have warned the public against swimming at all beaches north of the uMngeni River up to Tongaat River, saying the water quality remains unsafe owing to the recent chemical spill during the riots in July.
A chemical warehouse in Cornubia was set alight and contaminated the Ohlanga River and uMhlanga Estuary which leads to the sea in the uMhlanga area.
“Results of initial samples taken were received today, and the professional specialist team employed by UPL (United Phosphorus Limited) have advised the city that beaches should remain closed,” said municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela.
He added that a second set of test samples were taken last week, and results are due back on Friday. According to the municipality, the results will determine whether to continue with the closure of the beaches.
“The public are asked to be patient and comply with requests from authorities. Any inconvenience is regretted. However, the safety of the public is of utmost importance,” Mayisela said.
As part of the safety precautions, fences have been erected in Ohlanga and uMhlanga Estuary, with guards constantly monitoring activity in the area. The public have been urged to obey the instructions of the officials and guards.
In addition, the public have been warned against recreational beach activities, including fishing, surfing, swimming, bait collection and picking up dead species.
According to authorities, the collecting or harvesting of any marine living resource in the area is temporarily prohibited as they could have been exposed to toxic chemicals and be harmful to health.