10,000 tons of coal to be dumped

Environmental Affairs Dept has approved a request to dump 10,000 tons of coal into the ocean.

The Environmental Affairs Dept has approved a request to dump 10,000 tons of coal into the ocean.

CAPE TOWN - Environmental Affairs Department has approved an emergency request to dump 10,000 tons of coal from a stricken vessel into the ocean.

The MV Smart in Richards Bay ran aground in rough seas last month.

The bulk carrier split in two, making it very difficult to move the wreckage away from the harbour before it sinks.

About 50,000 tons of coal has already spilt into the ocean.

Now the department has given the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) permission to dump a further 10,000 tons.

The department's Zolile Nqayi says the area around the vessel is not a biologically sensitive hotspot.

"There's a set of risks that the vessel will sink and if it sinks it will be stuck there for a very long time."

He says given the circumstances, dumping the coal is a viable solution.

The department says the coal will be retrieved at a later stage.