DFFE team heads to Durban to assess impact of fire from torched chemical plant

The UPL warehouse in Cornubia, which housed hundreds of hazardous herbicides, fungicides and pesticides, was targeted last Monday by looters. It took firefighters more than a week to douse the flames and the damage was not confined to the facility.

The UPL chemical plant in Durban is still smouldering days after it was torched in the riots and looting that hit the area in July. Picture: @DA_KZN/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - A team of specialists assembled by the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment will head to KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday to help deal with the impact of a fire at a Durban chemical plant.

The UPL warehouse in Cornubia, which housed hundreds of hazardous herbicides, fungicides and pesticides, was targeted last Monday by looters. It took firefighters more than a week to douse the flames and the damage was not confined to the facility.

READ MORE: Concerns raised as chemicals from torched Durban plant threaten health, wildlife

The pollution from the days-long burning fire at the UPL chemical plant resulted in dead fish washing ashore because of toxins from the Umhlanga lagoon. It's not only marine life that has been threatened but birds have also died.

While the KwaZulu-Natal Environmental Affairs Department has started running tests and evaluating the damage to the environment, an additional team of specialists in aquatic systems, epidemiology, waste and pollution as well as oceans and coasts compliance will provide support.

“The priority at this stage is to ensure that impacts are mitigated and that containment measures are effective,” said national spokesperson Albi Modise.

Beaches in the north of Durban remain closed, as are nearby businesses.

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