The DA has noted with concern reports of a large Chinese bulk carrier, the NS Qingdao, that has apparently been given the go-ahead by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to dump at least 1 500 tons of toxic chemicals into the ocean off the fragile St Helena Bay coastline.
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.
The intention appears to have been to dump some of the waste elsewhere originally but the owners of the Chinese vessel now appear to have decided to rather dump the waste into the pristine waters of St Helena Bay.
There are serious concerns as to how the dumped waste will interact with the powerful Benguela current which could carry it 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.
The ANC government should be taking steps to prevent this type of dumping, instead of actively helping to enable it.