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Cyanide spill in dam, Buffalo River
by Citizen
19 February 2012
MORE ARTICLES

Cyanide spill in dam, Buffalo River ‘threatens lives’
IT WAS feared last night that the raw water supply to Umzinyathi (Dundee) and Newcastle could be laced with cyanide, after a chemical plant near Newcastle allegedly spilled the lethal poison into a dam whose sluices were then opened to flush the cyanide down the Ngagane River.

17 February 2012 | CITIZEN REPORTER


 IT WAS feared last night that the raw water supply to Umzinyathi (Dundee) and Newcastle could be laced with cyanide, after a chemical plant near Newcastle allegedly spilled the lethal poison into a dam whose sluices were then opened to flush the cyanide down the Ngagane River.

The website LookLocal Newcastle reported that the spill had been discovered yesterday morning when cattle drinking water from a stream running from the Karbochem site died within minutes.

The website said there was concern the spill could have fatal consequences, as it threatened the water supplies of Newcastle and Umzinyathi.

Ways to protect the towns’ water supplies were being discussed last night by the disaster management committee which had approved the “flushing” of the Ntshingwayo Dam yesterday afternoon.

Water was being released at 16 000 litres a second to dilute the poison, but this was forcing the poison down the Buffalo River, contaminating the towns’ water.

uThukela Water’s communications manager, Dumisani Thabethe, and Water Services Authority manager Nkululeko Ncube, both voiced disapproval of the decision to flush the dam.

They said the water treatment plant for Umzinyathi was already not functioning at full capacity.

“The residents there are in very real danger of contamination,” Thabethe was quoted as saying.

Karbochem employees were seen dumping buckets of HTH chlorine into the stream to oxidise the cyanide. Ncube said while this might help to some degree, the HTH would kill fish and plant life along the river.

Karbochem general manager Leon Meyer said a leak had been responsible for the incident and samples were being taken at all factories on the Karbochem site to establish where it was.

He said tight pollution control mechanisms were in place and water samples were taken every day on site and every week from the river.

Legal action against company that spilled cyanide in a river

19 February 2012
Newcastle - The department of water affairs is going to take legal action against the company responsible for a cyanide spill in the Ngagane river near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal. The department is waiting on investigation results, which should be completed by the end of next week. Acting regional director for water resource management in KwaZulu-Natal, Jay Reddy, told the SABC if it was confirmed Karbochem, a synthetic rubber manufacturer, was the culprit of the spill, "the department will hand over the matter to the compliance, monitoring and enforcement unit which will enforce legal action against the company. The spill was discovered on Thursday morning when cows died after drinking from a stream near a site outside Newcastle.

Sapa

Poisoned KZN water back to normal

2012-02-21
Newcastle - The clean-up of a river after cyanide spilled into the raw water supply of towns in northern KwaZulu-Natal has been completed, Karbochem said on Tuesday.

"There is nothing new to report. Everything is back to normal," said spokesperson for the synthetic rubber manufacturer, Jaco Prinsloo.

On Monday it was established that a mechanical failure at Karbochem's Newcastle plant caused the spill.

Prinsloo said the mechanical failure had caused contaminated water to leak into the stormwater system.

"The equipment has been repaired and steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence."

Compensation

On Thursday, cyanide spilled into a stream near the Karbochem site in Newcastle. The stream flows into the Ngagane river, the source of the area's raw water supplies.

There have been no reports of human fatalities, but the spillage did result in the deaths of 12 head of cattle.

Karbochem has offered to compensate farmers and local residents in the area who had been affected.

"We take full responsibility for the 12 cows that have died," Prinsloo said.

Karbochem was in discussions with the two affected farmers on their compensation.

"We have received a claim for five cows from one farmer. We are still waiting for the claim from the other farmer for seven cows," he said.

He could not specify on how much Karbochem would pay per cow, only that it would be a market related value.

After the spillage last week, the river was flushed and by Friday afternoon Karbochem reported the water was safe.

Cyanide levels

"[The cyanide levels are] far within the safe and legal limits," said Prinsloo.

He said tests of the water revealed less than 50 parts of cyanide per million parts of water as legally required.

"The levels are very far below that. It is below two parts per million."

Acting regional director for water resource management Jay Reddy said the department handed an investigation into the spillage over to the compliance monitoring and enforcement unit of the department of water affairs.

"Once the investigations are done, the department will decide what steps to take," Reddy said.

Prinsloo said he could not comment on any legal action against Karbochem as the matter was sub judice.

SAPA



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