Oil Spill On Lansdowne Road A Bane in The Lives Of Wentworth And Merebank Residents

The great 19th Century naturalist John Muir often lamented humanity’s widespread desecration of nature. “In the noblest forests of the world, the ground, once divinely beautiful, is desolate and repulsive, like a face ravaged by disease,”

Immediately after the evacuation of the illegally parked trucks on Lansdowne Road, it seems another serious problem has arisen.

What they have now left behind is a sight for sore eyes. This once pristine garden is now, unfortunately, a cesspool dominated by garbage and rubble, but most overwhelming is the oil spill that has been there since 26 February.

Oil spills should be cleaned up as quickly as possible before the oil emulsifies.  In addition to this, oil is toxic and harms the environment where it was spilled, affecting the wildlife there. It is important to clean up oil spills quickly to limit the damage to the environment.

Analysis of core samples from spill sites of various ages and locations indicated that biodegradation of oil is extremely slow in the anaerobic zone of the soil. Theoretical predictions indicated that contaminated groundwater might extend in the direction of flow from less than one meter to several thousand meters from a spill, depending primarily on biodegradation rates and pore velocities. It is concluded that some oil spills on land have the potential to pose long-term threats to groundwater quality.

Desmond D’sa, Coordinator of the environmental justice organization South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), said;  “Yes the oil spill is clearly illegal and an offense has been committed. The authorities must prosecute and owners and the truck driver must be held responsible and severely dealt with. There must be no leniency shown and the book must be thrown at them as too many incidents of this nature are occurring.

Illegal activities of dumping oil are on the increase in South Durban, and true culprits sometimes do this under the cover of darkness. An example should be set where the responsible persons are brought before a court of law to set a precedent for prosecution. The city officials must employ  dedicated and experienced staff to replace those who have retired”

Frank Alexander, Resident, Trade Unionist, Community Activist, And Trustee of South Durban Basin Community Development Trust, stated; “We would like to take this opportunity to thank the residents that highlighted this oil spill.

This is the type of active citizenry that is needed.

These incidents affect the daily lives of our people.

This incident although tragic highlights the irony of the article done on trucks less than a week ago at that very area of Lansdowne Road reported by this very community newspaper.

Active community participation in matters that affect community is crucial for these matters to be highlighted to the relevant authorities and for those responsible to be held accountable”

Lenny Joseph, the deputy chairperson of the KZN Cape Coloured Congress, said that the strong chemical smell at the site of the spill is overwhelming.

Further, he stated emotionally; “I am extremely concerned that the actual site of the oil spill in Lansdowne Road, is where our children from Lamontville, Isipingo, Umlazi, and other areas in the South Durban Basin, who attend schools in Merebank and Wentworth, are dropped off and picked up. This oil spill could have a negative impact on the health and safety of the scholars and commuters. On 5 March I sent correspondence to the powers that be, regarding my concerns, and to date, I have not received a response”

Lenny Joseph’s correspondence


Voice note by onlooker


Oil spills may impact the environment in the following ways: Physical smothering of organisms: This is caused by oils with a high viscosity, in other words, heavy oils. Smothering will affect an organism’s physical ability to continue critical functions such as respiration, feeding, and thermoregulation, and fifteen days later the oil spill in Lansdowne Road is still unattended to.

By: Lorraine Richards

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