Durban beaches reopen‚ but municipality urges caution

20 May 2016 - 10:49 By Matthew Savides

The eThekwini municipality has reopened the beaches shut this week due to medical waste washing ashore - and said that the pharmaceuticals were neither dumped‚ nor as widespread as originally feared.On Wednesday‚ four beaches north of the uMgeni River - uMgeni‚ Mangrove‚ Glenashley and Virginia beach - were closed after parks department head Thembinkosi Ngcobo said an estimated half a ton of plastic pill bottles and sealed condom packages washed up. At first‚ it was estimated that it could take two weeks to clean the mess.SuppliedBut in a statement issued late on Thursday night‚ the municipality conceded that the problem was not as severe as originally thought."Preliminary reports have revealed that only a fraction of the waste found is pharmaceutical in nature‚" said spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa.Supplied "The majority of the debris found consists of general waste and driftwood."It is highly likely that all this waste originated from various sources along the catchment that washed into the sea from the uMgeni River following the recent heavy rains in Durban‚" Mthethwa said.While the beaches have been reopened‚ Mthethwa said it was nonetheless best to be cautious."Members of the public are encouraged to exercise caution when using beaches as there is still a lot of debris washing ashore‚" she said.The decision comes after officials from the municipality‚ from the national and provincial environmental affairs departments‚ and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife conducted investigations on Thursday.Clean-up operations were continuing‚ said Mthethwa.Parks department head Thembinkosi Ngcobo told TMG Digital on Thursday evening: “We currently have 30 staff members working throughout the night‚ and then the municipal staff who would come on duty as per normal in the morning are picking up where these teams left off.“From what I’ve seen‚ we might finish earlier than we thought.” - TMG Digital/Sunday Times

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