The Environmental Affairs Department in KwaZulu-Natal says they will await a report regarding the cause of a major oil spill in the province before deciding on the action to be taken against the company behind the environmental disaster.

Water is being distributed to the communities around the Msunduzi and Umgeni Rivers in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The spill emanated from the Willowton Group’s Oil factory.

Willowton Oil is working to contain the environmental damage and to ascertain the cause of the spillage.

The Department’s Chief Director, Siphumelele Nowele says: “The company is working, they’ve actually contracted three companies to deal with this. They’ve put some containment bands along the stream and some absorbents to absorb the oil. They’ve also hired some specialists to ascertain the amount or the extent of this damage. When that report is completed it shall be forwarded to us and we then from that report are going to ascertain whether there is any kind of wrongdoing or some negligence from the side of the company and whether there is any criminal proceedings that have to be made against the company.”

The spillage has killed fish and led to warnings for people to avoid the river.

Nowele says the only deaths recorded so far are those of fish.

“We are not aware of any persons directly affected by this fish and aquatic have been severely affected. It had been alleged that a number of cattle had been killed but no cattle have been confirmed to be dead. We are actually communicating quite extensively warning people not to use this water. The company Willowton Oil is working with some NGOs, including Gift of the Givers,  distributing potable water to the communities affected as well as for the livestock.”

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