DA puts pressure on KZN Environmental officials to come clean over chemical pollution of Umhlanga River and Lagoon

Issued by Heinz de Boer, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs
20 Jul 2021 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has called on provincial Environmental Affairs officials to come clean with the public and reveal what chemicals continue to pollute large parts of northern eThekwini.

The move comes after the Umhlanga River and Lagoon was recently devastated by chemicals, poisons and pesticides washed into the river system following the arson attacks at the Cornubia business park.

The DA has already directly engaged Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC, Ravi Pillay, in an attempt to gain clarity on the full extent of the products stored in the chemical factory which was burnt during last week’s riots.

The public has a right to know what chemicals, pesticides or toxic substances were stored at the premises. They also need to be informed of the plans to contain further environmental pollution.

An oversight of the Umhlanga Lagoon yesterday – coupled with oversight by DA Councillor Rory Macpherson – has unveiled the utter devastation of the fire. Dead fish now litter the Umhlanga Lagoon while nearby marine species are dying en masse.

These yet unknown pollutants continue to leak into the river while the fire has reignited and continues to cause respiratory distress and skin irritation within nearby communities.

Alarmingly, it would appear no attempt has been made to repair nearby fire hydrants and only one fire tender is on site.

eThekwini Municipality has dropped the ball in a spectacular fashion while provincial authorities don’t quite know the magnitude of the disaster. KZN’s Environmental Affairs portfolio committee can also be written off as ineffectual as it simply regurgitates press releases from the Municipality.

The DA will continue to exert pressure on all authorities who must reveal what is burning and how it could affect communities. The time for non-disclosure is over. Our citizens deserve better.