Johannesburg, 22 October 2020 — Responding to news this week that a crude oil spill is affecting uMbilo River in Durban, Durban-based Greenpeace Africa Volunteer and Activist Delwyn Pillay has said: 

“No matter how you spin it, fossil fuels inevitably carry the risk of putting the environment and surrounding communities in peril. As a resident of Durban, I see daily the wildlife that is dependent on the river system, and the communities that are connected along the river. Precious ecosystems like these, which canal into a natural heritage site made of the last remaining mangrove forests in Durban bay, are never safe while we are locked into dependence on fossil fuels.” 

Environmental groups in Durban have been pressuring Transnet to make pipeline maintenance and monitoring records public since the diesel pipeline burst in the suburb of Hillcrest on 23 December 2014. The latest uMbilo River ecological disaster reaffirms what the recent Mauritius oil spill[1] tragically highlighted: the problematic nature of transporting oil and more importantly the need to rethink South Africa’s addiction to climate-destroying fossil fuels. 

Pillay continued, “We need assurance that the containment measures being implemented by Transnet are actually effective. Are Transnet and the eThekwini Municipality prepared to deal with the impacts of the spill downstream, or are they merely temporarily putting a bandaid on a much bigger problem? The municipality must move with urgency to avoid further harm to the environment and surrounding communities. Ultimately, to safeguard South Africans, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, must urgently prioritise shifting South Africa away from fossil fuels in a Just Transition.”


Notes to the editor

[1] Nearly three months ago Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio ran aground offshore in the south of Mauritius, spilling over 1000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil into the ocean. The tons of oil that leaked out of the ship created an environmental crisis that may last for decades, putting many endangered species within the lagoons and the mangrove forests at significant risk.

Contact details

Chris Vlavianos, Greenpeace Africa Communications Officer, 0798837036, [email protected] 

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