Millions of plastic pellets spilled
October 30, 2017
Durban, South Africa: The: South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) are monitoring mop up operations by independent service provider Drizit Environmental who has been tasked to clean up beaches and shorelines from Richards Bay to Umkomaas.
SAMSA, working with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) said it had been actively involved in containing and minimising the impact of the damage caused in the harbour following the October 10 storm that caused havoc in Durban and other areas in KwaZulu-Natal.
Five ships broke its mooring during the storm and had to be re-floated after the storm passed. Four containers went missing during the storm and at least one contained lentil-sized plastic pellets commonly known as nurdles.
The last two missing containers were retrieved from the harbour on Saturday.
Divers from the TNPA team attached chains from the floating crane, Indlovu, to the containers to assist in lifting them from the bottom of the ocean. They also retrieved some plastic debris which was afloat after the containers surfaced.
SAMSA said in the past few days a mixture of plastic cargo been found in some parts of the ocean and washed up along some of the beaches.
SAMSA’s Principal Officer Captain Hopewell Mkhize today met with Transnet Port Authority and Drizit, among others, to get a clearer understanding of how far the contents of the containers had reached.
Mkhize said bad weather had hampered the clean-up operations, but operations resumed early Monday morning.
The Port Authority’s ongoing clean-up operations within port limits have also been targeting a significant inflow of waste that has discharged into the port from Umbilo, Amanzimnyama and Umhlatuzana Rivers, as well as the municipal stormwater system.
“We have worked around the clock to monitor the clean up and get regular updates. Since the storm on October 10 we have been mindful about the environmental risks and have acted in accordance with safe and clean measures to avoid contamination of the ocean,” Mkhize said.
Assessments of the damage are continuing in other parts of the province.
“We need the teams to carry out their work now and within a week we will meet again with all parties to assess the clean-up and what further steps to take,” Mkhize said.
Mkhize was confident that only four containers went missing during the storm and they have all been recovered.
He thanked the local communities and beach goers for their assistance in identifying washed up plastics and reporting them to authorities, and in some cases assisting with removing it from the ocean.
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, a global container shipping line, also said in a statement that it was assisting with the clean-up of beaches near Durban Harbour following the freak storm.
The company said while the origin of the pellets, were not yet conclusive it was responsive to concerns about the impact on marine life and was voluntarily assisting with the clean-up.
“MSC is also cooperating with a directive by the SAMSA to assess the beaches near Durban, in line with normal protocols around marine spillage incidents, MSC said.
They were also in contact with Drizit.
Drizit has a central collection point at Durban Ski Boat Club (79 Browns Rd, Point, Durban) where these plastic pellets may be dropped off. Drizit can be contacted on their 24- hour toll free line 0800 202 202.