Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) at the Port of Durban, in partnership with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), has been actively involved in containing and minimising the port-related impact of the inclement weather experienced in Durban on 10 October 2017.
During the natural disaster TNPA and SAMSA had to prioritise the refloating and remooring of five drifting vessels, three of which had grounded in the port due to the extraordinary weather conditions. On the same day TNPA managed to secure two damaged shipping containers that had fallen into the water. These containers were retrieved as soon as available resources had successfully dealt with the five affected vessels. Transnet has accounted for all containers that were reported missing.
Containment measures were implemented as soon as it was discovered that at least one of the fallen containers had held bags of plastic pellets. Several bags were retrieved within the port waters and a clean-up operation was implemented by the Port Pollution Control department with the assistance of a subcontracted third party. Sounding surveys conducted by TNPA’s Dredging Services division, supported by divers and drones, found no further obstructions or obstacles on the seabed within the port limits and the port was declared safe for navigation on 13 October. The Port Authority’s ongoing clean-up operations within port limits have also been targeting a significant inflow of waste that was discharged into the port from the Umbilo, Amanzimnyama and Umhlatuzana Rivers, as well as the municipal stormwater system.
Following reports that the plastic pellets have been discovered along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal an urgent meeting was convened on 24 October 2017 between TNPA and other government entities (namely: the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), South Africa Local Government Association (SALGA), provincial environmental affairs, Ezemvelo, etc.) to discuss mitigating measures. Affected municipalities will be informed to be on the lookout for the plastic pellets and will lead their own clean-up operations along their area of coastline. A preliminary report has been submitted to DEA and progress will be monitored before a final report is issued by TNPA and SAMSA within 14 days of today’s date.
Members of the public may contact Drizit Environmental which has been contracted to lead the clean-up operation. Drizit has a central collection point at Durban Ski Boat Club (79 Browns Rd, Point, Durban) where these plastic pellets may be dropped off. Drizit can be contacted on their 24-hour toll free line 0800 202 202.