the clean-up of Duzi River in KwaZulu-Natal is progressing well, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) said on Sunday.
"Approximately 100 people are currently cleaning different sections of the river from the Baynespruit, Msunduzi and further down to Inanda Dam," said the department.
The department is investigating the pollution of the river due to a spillage that happened at Willowton Oil in Pietermaritzburg, which worked its way downstream into Mngeni River and into Inanda Dam.
Following the spillage, a task team was formed to monitor the clean-up progress and ensure compliance with the environmental legislation including by-laws.
The task team, made up of stakeholders including DWS, Umgeni Water, Msunduzi Municipality as well as managers of the clean-up companies and Willowton representatives held their first meeting on Thursday.
The first report from the meeting stated that there was a structural collapse of two tanks. One was containing fatty acid, and the other tank contained caustic lime.
The collapsed tanks crushed the crude oil pipe, resulting in the leakage of crude oil into the water resource. The report further stated that about 1 600 tons of products were spilled within Willowton Group premises and flowed into Baynespruit River through the storm water drains.
"An independent environmentalist has been appointed to ensure compliance with all the environmental legislation and to submit all the reports required within the specified timeframes. Ground Truth... has been appointed to assess the impact on the water resources and to effect all the Best Practical Environmental Options remediation measures," said the department.
Clean-up companies Spilltech and Drizit were appointed to undertake a clean-up of both the affected water resources and the operational area.
Meanwhile, Umgeni Water has released water from Henly Dam to dilute the spilled product that escaped from Baynespruit into Msunduzi River.
The release of water was done on 14 August and the dilution managed to bring the pH down to 8.5 from 10.78.
More improvement on the water quality results is expected as the clean-up progresses.
The department issued a directive on 16 August 2019 and departmental officials have formed part of the task team that is monitoring the clean-up to ensure relevant legislations are complied with. The department is also discussing possible measures for implementation to clean the affected rivers and to prevent the migration of the spillage substance.
Meanwhile, continued monitoring will take place in the form of water samples, site inspections and necessary meetings, with a report to be forwarded to the relevant authorities. Bio-monitoring will also be undertaken on different points of the affected water resources.
The DWS urged residents living upstream of the Duzi River, Mgeni River, Inanda Dam and surroundings to not use water from the resource until further notice.