DURBAN – Investigations are ongoing to find the source of the pharmaceutical waste that washed up on a number of eThekwini beaches recently, following heavy rains experienced in the City.
Clean up campaigns to clear the beaches of the waste are still underway and would continue until all the waste has been cleared.
A presentation was made to the Executive Committee today, 30 May 2016, regarding the progress on the clean-up campaign as well as the investigation into the source of the waste.
Amanda Bani from the Parks, Recreation and Culture Unit said following the heavy rains experienced between 6-8 May 2016, a number of Durban beaches from as far as Verulam Coast in the north to Reunion-Isipingo-Treasure Beach in the south were affected.
The worst affected beaches were around south of uMngeni River Mouth, Virginia Bush, Suncoast Beach, Beachwood/Mangrove area as well as Glenashley beaches. There was a proliferation of pharmaceutical waste in the form of antiretroviral drugs, medication to treat hypertension, heart failure and TB as well as condoms among the debris.
Four beaches were temporarily closed as a safety precaution which have since reopened. Bani said a clean-up campaign was immediately implemented with bags requested as well as a compactor to be made available for the loading and removal of the normal waste. Red medical waste bags were sourced for the pharmaceutical medication disposal.
She said two beach cleaning teams, comprising of 15 members each, were deployed to the beaches from 6am to 6pm.
“All staff were trained on how to handle and separate the waste as well as the use of gloves as protective wear,” Bani said.
She said around 9 600 bags of separated litter has been collected by the Parks Department with an average of 500 bags of litter collected each day.
Bani said the clean-up campaign was still underway, with teams still on site.
Deputy City Manager for Community and Emergency Services Dr Musa Gumede said investigations were still ongoing regarding the source of the waste.
“We cannot speculate where it came from but it is clear it was not dumped on the beach, it came from rivers. We do not believe it was a big pharmaceutical waste company or a hospital or clinic that dumped this waste as we did not find items such as used syringes among the debris. There are a few possibilities regarding the source of the waste which we are still investigating,” he said.
He said once the investigation was finalised, a report would be submitted to the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee welcomed the report and commended the work done thus far but stressed that those responsible for the dumping, must be held accountable.