The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment recently gave the go-ahead for the large Chinese bulk carrier, the NS Qingdao, to dump at least 1500 tons of toxic chemicals into the ocean off the St Helena Bay coastline.

Dave Bryant, DA Shadow Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, and Chris Hunsinger MP, DA Shadow Minister of Transport, stated last week: “We call on the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, to urgently intervene. We will also request that both Minister Creecy and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) account to the parliamentary portfolio committees on the environment and transport regarding how permission was granted and whether the potentially devastating consequences of the dumping have been properly investigated.”

According to a statement released by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on 13 January 2022, the toxic waste, described by SAMSA as “problematic water reactive cargo approximating 1500 tonnes”, will be dumped “250km from the closest point to land and in excess of 3000m of water”.

SAMSA stated that an emergency dumping permit was obtained from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment enabling the dumping of the reactive cargo at sea, and that the dumping operation is expected to be concluded on 25 March 2022.

SAMSA also stated the vessel’s cargo consists of “a mixture of Sodium Metabisulphite, Magnesium Nitrate Hexahydrate, Caustic Calcined Magnesite, Electrode Paste, Monoammonium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate, Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Sulphite Anhydrous and Calcium Chloride.”

In November of 2021 SAMSA released a statement saying that the toxic fumes posed no immediate threat.

However, according to the DA shadow ministers, there are serious concerns as to how the dumped waste will interact with the powerful Benguela current, as it could carry the toxic waste into areas where it may pose a risk to other marine life and humans. “The Department needs to come clean as to how this vessel was granted carte blanche to dump such a large volume of chemicals in South African waters, especially after recent disasters such as the UPL chemical spill which destroyed all life in the Umhlanga Lagoon ecosystem.”

“The South African coastline is not a garbage dump for other countries. International bulk carriers should be mandated to transport their waste back to their home countries to dispose of it properly” said Dave Bryant MP and Chris Hunsinger MP.

The MPs further stated that the ANC government should be taking steps to prevent this type of dumping, instead of actively helping to enable it.

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