Academic challenges health risk report on CT sewage outfall

According to the study, there are no measurable risks to human health through either swimming in the ocean or consuming fish from these areas.

FILE: A plume in Table Bay which marine conservation photographer Jean Tresfon claims eminates from the local sewage outfall pipe. Picture: Jean Tresfon

CAPE TOWN - A chemistry professor has challenged a report that claims sewage outfalls in Cape Town's oceans pose no significant risk to human health.

The City of Cape Town commissioned the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research to conduct a study on wastewater outfalls at Green Point, Camps Bay, and Hout Bay after it received widespread flack from experts and the public.

According to the study, there are no measurable risks to human health through either swimming in the ocean or consuming fish from these areas.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research study showed no evidence of excessive concentrations of chemicals in the tissue of mussels or rock lobsters collected close to the outfalls.

But University of the Western Cape chemistry professor Leslie Petrik has an issue with the findings.

“Nobody is probably going to die if they get into the water and swallow a mouth full of sea water but the question is what are the toxic doses for the marine organisms?”

Petrik says they have conducted their own study of the marine life along the Granger Bay outfall.

“We found from 2015 to 2017 that levels have increased rapidly, so in other words, this is something that needs to be monitored.”

The city says it’s developed an extensive monitoring programme with help from external marine scientists.