Communities living along the Umhlanga River which has been contaminated by a chemical spillage from the nearby UPL Chemical Plant in Cornubia, Durban, are demanding that the company assist in clean-up operations.

According to residents, UPL Chemicals has also refused to reveal what chemical spilled into the nearby Ohlanga River and the Umhlanga Lagoon.

The agricultural plant was torched last month, during a wave of violence and looting
in KwaZulu-Natal.

The burning of the factory has caused toxic discharge to flow into the Durban North beaches.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries in Umhlanga also visited the site to assess the extent of the damage.

Francine Hattingh, from the Durban North Air Quality, told the committee that the company needed to be more forthcoming about the chemicals that had spilled into the local river and estuary.

Chairperson of the committee Fikile Xasa says they will demand answers from UPL.

Health problems 

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance says many residents have confirmed that they have health problems following the release of toxic chemicals after people set fire to a chemical factory inland from Umhlanga.

The Environmental Alliance’s Desmond D’Sa says they hope the Health Department will assess the situation and send mobile clinics to the area to help people suffering from respiratory and other ailments.

D’sa explains: