Barely a month after several Durban beaches were re-opened to tourists and locals, the UPL farm chemicals giant is hoping to dump even more poisonous pesticides into the sea – in an apparent bid to save money on land-based disposal costs.
Several of the city’s most popular swimming beaches were closed for nearly four months as a safety precaution after a torrent of pesticides and other agro-chemicals poured into the sea in the wake of the July arson attack on the UPL chemicals warehouse in Cornubia, north of Durban.
The beach ban was finally lifted on November 2 – but now UPL has asked for permission to dump large quantities of accumulated toxic waste into the sea off Durban, via the Southern wastewater treatment works near Merebank.
The new UPL toxic waste stockpile – scraped from the charred remains of the warehouse floor and surrounding roads, riverbeds and sugar cane fields – has been stored for the last few months in a temporary “pollution control dam” close to the warehouse.
From here, the contaminated liquids have been loaded into road tankers and driven to two specially-designed hazardous waste dumps in Gauteng and KwaDukuza.