Chemical spill forces closure of some Durban beaches

Chemical spill forces closure of some Durban beaches

All eThekwini beaches north of the Umgeni estuary are being shut due to a chemical spill into the Umhlanga Lagoon.

Durban North Beach

The spillage was caused by a warehouse fire in Umhlanga that started this week. 

The fire was the work of arsonists during this week’s unrest.

The city says it’s received reports of extensive environmental impact at uMhlanga and uMdloti Lagoons, as well as nearby beaches.

It says the spillage has resulted in the deaths of numerous marine species and birds.

People are being warned against picking up and consuming the dead fish and other affected animals - saying the pollution is considered serious and can harm our health.

"Authorities are engaging with other local municipalities further north as a precautionary measure. The public are advised to avoid the beach area at this time until it is deemed safe.

"Extensive environmental impacts are being reported at uMhlanga and uMdloti Lagoons and beaches in the vicinity and these have contributed to killing numerous species of marine and bird life. 

"The pollution is considered serious and can affect one’s health if species are collected and consumed. Lagoon and seawater contact must also be avoided. 

“The public is therefore advised to cease all activity on the above-mentioned beaches," eThekwini Municipality says.

The beaches that are closed are Beachwood, Virginia, Glenashley, La Lucia, Umhlanga Main and Bronze, as well as Umdloti, La Mercy and Tongaat.

The closure includes tidal pools.

The city says clean-up companies are trying to deal with the spill.

"Some residents in areas north of Durban are also reporting smoke residue from burned chemical products. The public can only smell it from time to time depending on the wind direction as it dissipates. Residents are advised to close windows and doors and put wet cloths over vents until smoke clears as a precautionary measure."

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