Investigations continue into Durban beach medical waste | Infrastructure news

Investigations are ongoing to Biohazard bagfind the source of the pharmaceutical waste that washed up on a number of Durban beaches recently, following heavy rains.

Clean-up campaigns to clear the beaches of the waste are still underway and will continue until all the waste has been cleared.

A presentation was made to the Executive Committee today, 30 May 2016, regarding the progress on the clean-up campaign as well as the investigation into the source of the waste.

Update on clean up

At a presentation was to the Executive Committee, Amanda Bani from the Parks, Recreation and Culture Unit said following the heavy rains experienced between 6 and 8 May, medical waste appeared on a number of Durban beaches from as far as Verulam Coast in the north to Reunion-Isipingo-Treasure Beach.

The worst affected beaches were south of uMngeni River Mouth, Virginia Bush, Suncoast Beach, Beachwood/Mangrove area as well as Glenashley beaches. There was a proliferation of pharmaceutical waste in the form of antiretroviral drugs, medication to treat hypertension, heart failure and TB as well as condoms among the debris.

Four beaches were temporarily closed as a safety precaution which have since reopened. Bani said a clean-up campaign was immediately implemented with medical waste bags requested as well as a compactor to be made available for the loading and removal of the normal waste.

She said two beach cleaning teams, comprising of 15 members each, were deployed to the beaches from 6am to 6pm.  “All staff were trained on how to handle and separate the waste as well as the use of gloves as protective wear,” she said.

Roughly 9 600 bags of separated litter has been collected by the Parks Department with an average of 500 bags of litter collected each day. The clean-up campaign was still underway, with teams still on site.

Investigations ongoing

Deputy City Manager for Community and Emergency Services Dr Musa Gumede said investigations were still ongoing regarding the source of the waste.

“We cannot speculate where it came from but it is clear it was not dumped on the beach, it came from rivers. We do not believe it was a big pharmaceutical waste company or a hospital or clinic that dumped this waste as we did not find items such as used syringes among the debris. There are a few possibilities regarding the source of the waste which we are still investigating,” he said.

He said once the investigation was finalised, a report would be submitted to the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee welcomed the report and commended the work done thus far but stressed that those responsible for the dumping, must be held accountable.

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