Durban municipality denies posionous chemicals washed into local harbour

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Municipal officials in Durban yesterday refuted suggestions that toxic chemicals were responsible for two incidents of fish killed in the local harbour.

Dead fish were seen floating or lying on the banks in and around the harbour on December 21 in the Wilson's Wharf area.

The second incident was at the Bluff Yacht Club on December 26.

The two incidents could well be related.

Yesterday city manager Mike Sutcliffe said a series of tests had shown that a surge in the organic load into the water was responsible for the death of the fish.

"Based on the repeated scientific measurements undertaken over the last week, we still are of the view that the incident was caused by a surge in organic load into the headwaters of the harbour."

These range from waste management practices within the port and in the catchment that drains into the port; the recent spate of rains which could have contributed to a relatively greater organic load into this system and the fact that there could be industrial effluent discharges being illegally connected into the storm water system.

He said the investigation into exactly which company, individual or organisation might have been solely or collectively responsible was ongoing.

Both the eThekwini Municipality and Transnet Port Authority have been engaged in a coordinated process to collect and safely dispose of dead fish at the designated landfill sites.

Since Monday, no dead fish were observed.

The call for no fishing in the designated zone was heeded and there were no complaints of dead fish being sold.

"I have requested the inter-sectoral team dealing with the incident to come up with an integrated catchment management plan with the objective to sustainably manage the harbour estuary, to try to prevent future fish kills and to have an early warning system in place," said Sutcliffe.