To: eThekwini Municipal Manager Mr Musa Mbhele (acting), eThekwini mayor Mr Mxolisi Kaunda.
Thousands dead, genetics forever altered.. This is the United Phosphorus Limited Legacy..
We demand that United Phosphorus Limited (SA) be held accountable for this environmental and humanitarian catastrophe they have caused by illegally storing chemicals at their plant. We demand that the eThekwini Municipal Manager and Mayor charge the company accordingly. How is it possible that this business was allowed to operate without a full disclosure, without permits or an environmental impact analysis?
Why is this important?
During recent KZN unrest, arsonists targeted United Phosphorus Limited SA (amongst many others). United Phosphorus Limited, with its headquarters in India, was operating illegally in Durban with no specific Environmental or Hazardous substance approvals or permits, so no EIA was conducted on chemical storage or potential POLLUTION, no bundling or pollution control dams. No government officials are aware of any applications.
1600 different types of chemicals were housed on the premises (a full disclosure of chemicals have not been given to relevant authorities)
This incident took place on 13 July 2021. Reports of strong chemical fumes were being reported by different communities in the area. Homeowners reported struggling for air, their lungs and nostrils felt like they were breathing fire - personally I felt like my chest was going to explode. Measures to block out the toxic fumes did not suffice and we eventually needed to double mask indoors to escape the toxic fumes.
I live 17.5km from the UPL chemical warehouse. God help those living closer and those living in informal settlements. Each time the wind changed direction, we'd gasp for relief. This lasted the entire 10 days that it took to extinguish the fire.
On 14 July, the day following the explosion, a regular beach goer took his morning stroll on Umdloti Beach and was horrified to see hundreds of dead fish and crayfish washed up on the shoreline. A once pristine beach now littered with dead sea life. Local surfers came back to shore as the stench of the sea water was too much to tolerate.
16 July all beaches were closed north of the Umgeni River as thousands of marine fish had washed ashore. The Ohlanga River and Umhlanga estuary a hideous hue of blue.
19 July. Spilltech scooping up thousands of dead fish from the Umhlanga estuary.
The fire at the illegal UPL chemical warehouse was finally extinguished on 22 July, 10 days later. Huge sigh of relief for some, such a pity our aquatic, amphibian, reptile, marine life and bird life can't say the same, the outlook for them short term is complete destruction of their environment with many dead zones in the river, the estuary and sea. Birdlife suffocated and died an agonizing death, wildlife dependant on the ocean and river system for sustenance suffered a similar horrendous and painful death. The destruction of vegetation or farmland will potentially suffer damage. Local communities or fishermen and women who are dependant on the river and ocean to sustain themselves and their families have lost their food source, how many have consumed fish or crayfish from the ocean or river, Ethekwini failed to erect warnings on beaches and river banks.
It is estimated that it could take 2 years for this environmental disaster to recover.... if ever, because how will this disaster alter genetics??..