20 March 2018

Namibia: Second Oil Spill At Walvis Lagoon

Walvis Bay — The detection of a second oil spill at Walvis Bay Lagoon has raised fears among coastal residents that the oil spills might be part of a bigger problem that could recur at any given time.

Residents yesterday told New Era the second oil spill at the lagoon should not be treated as an isolated incident and stakeholders such as Namport and the Directorate of Maritime Affairs should intensify their probe to determine the cause of the pollution. They said there is a bigger underlying problem, hence the origin must be investigated as soon as possible before more damage is caused to the environment.

The lagoon is one of the major tourist sites at the coast. It has beautiful scenery and a relaxing atmosphere and is home to hundreds of seabirds.

The lagoon, which was declared a Ramsar Convention on Wetlands site, and is protected by international laws, is much cherished by residents as well.

Local resident and environmental activist Rachel Adams says the oil spills and the time frames they occurred call for expert intervention.

"We as residents have reason to be concerned. Clearly these are not isolated incidents, these are warnings that we have a major issue at hand," she said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, on Saturday while visiting the previous oil spill location told New Era that he was impressed with the response of the emergency team, and assured residents the area is safe and can be visited.

Shifeta as well and Namport's port captain Lukas Kufuna were on site on Sunday when the emergency response team contained the oil spill.

An investigation is currently underway to determine its exact cause and the culprit, if caught, faces the prospect of a heavy fine.

Oil spills destroy the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals, such as sea otters, and the water repellency of a bird's feathers, thus exposing these creatures to the harsh elements. Without the ability to repel water, and insulation from the cold water, the birds and mammals will die from hypothermia. They also have an adverse effect on marine plants.

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