The Mediterranean Shipping Company has taken charge of cleaning up the harbour where an oil spill occurred and to speed up the cleaning process.
MSC released a statement in Geneva stating that specialised boats and machinery are trying to extract the vast quantities of ‘nurdles’ (raw plastic pellets) floating in the Durban harbour following a cargo spill by container ship MSC Susanna 24 days ago.
Workers deployed for clean-up:
A large number of workers have been deployed along a 200km stretch of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline to “painstakingly sieve the sand by hand in search of nurdles” that have been washing up on beaches over the past two weeks.
Storm wrecks havoc:
According to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), “Two 40-foot containers fell off the vessel into port waters during a severe storm which wreaked havoc in Durban on 10 October. They each contained 990 bags of low and high density polyethylene (plastic pellets) packed in 25kg bags. The total tonnage lost is estimated to be 49 tons”.
The containers, were subsequently located on the seabed and retrieved, but by then the bags had already leaked millions of nurdles that are now polluting the East Coast.
The plastic pellets in their raw stage are not toxic, but once released into the marine environment they attract harmful substances (pathogens) that can have negative impacts on marine species including seabirds and turtles which mistake the pellets for food.
MSC takes responsibility:
MSC has taken responsibility for the spill and has given assurance that though the spill occurred due to a natural phenomenon of extraordinary magnitude for which MSC is not at fault and that it has taken over the clean-up of the harbour in recent days in order to expedite the process.
Giles Broom, MSC’s Global Public Relations Manager said, “As a global marine company we have deep knowledge of how to tackle such situations and we have strong relationships with experts in the field. MSC is grateful to the members of the public who acted as first responders and helped with the initial stages of the clean-up, before the owner of the cargo of plastic pellets, the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) appointed a specialist company, Drizit Environmental, to clean 200 kilometres of beaches. For its part, MSC also moved swiftly to engage an experienced global salvage and emergency response company, Resolve Marine Group, led by industry-leading expert Nick Sloane”.
He further added, “MSC did not expect South African taxpayers to foot the bill for the clean-up”. “MSC also continues to cooperate with Transnet National Ports Authority and all the parties involved in the clean-up are in daily contact”.
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