Fire finally extinguished at Cornubia chemical warehouse after deadly environmental impact
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Durban – The fire at the chemical warehouse in Cornubia, which housed over 1 600 hazardous materials, was completely extinguished on Thursday evening – nine days after it was torched.
However, the environmental impact left in its wake is devastating, with almost three tons of dead fish washing up on shore.
At a media briefing held on Friday afternoon by the Economic Development, Trade and Environmental Affairs Department in KwaZulu-Natal, it was reported that the Mozambican Talapia fish was the most affected. Other marine life that washed up dead included swordfish, crayfish and crab.
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Firefighters who responded to the toxic fire have since been sent for occupational assessment as they lacked the proper protective gear while battling the inferno.
A special investigative team arrived in KwaZulu-Natal to assess the environmental impact of the aftermath of the burning down of the UPL warehouse in Cornubia, which contained bulk supplies of herbicides, fungicides and pesticides.
The warehouse, which only became operational less than three months ago, was set alight in the week of unrest and looting.
Two companies have been contracted to assist in cleaning up the Umhlanga Lagoon, Ohlanga River and part of the Indian Ocean between Umhlanga North and Umdhloti.
According to the experts who assessed the situation on Thursday, the large volume of water used to extinguish the fire had led to the plant’s containment system being overwhelmed. This led to the contaminated water spilling into the Umhlangana stream below.
The contaminated water also made its way into the Umhlanga River and to the estuary.
Residents have been advised to seek medical attention at their local clinic and private facilities as deemed necessary.