The public are reminded that all beaches north of the Umgeni River up to Tongaat River remain closed. Authorities are appealing to the public to refrain from any beach activities until the water quality is deemed safe.

The closure of the beaches follows the chemical spill that occurred during the unrest in July when a chemical warehouse in Cornubia was set alight. The spill contaminated the Ohlanga River and uMhlanga Estuary which leads to the sea in the Umhlanga area.

Authorities closed the beaches as a precautionary measure as it was not known how far the contamination had spread, what chemicals had leeched into the sea, and what effect it would have on the human health.

Results of initial samples taken were received today and the professional specialist team employed by UPL have advised the city that beaches should remain closed.

A second set of test samples were taken last week, results of which are due back on Friday. Authorities will reassess the temporary closure of the beaches and related activities. The public are asked to be patient and comply with requests from authorities. Any inconvenience is regretted however the safety of the public is of utmost importance.

Samples to test the water and sediments to determine the toxicity of the water continue to be taken.

The water in Ohlanga River and Umhlanga Estuary is deemed toxic due the chemicals in the system, and is therefore not safe for any use. Fences have been erected and guards have been placed in the vicinity of the estuary to ensure that the public do not enter the area. The public are urged to obey the instruction of the officials and guards.

The public is advised to refrain from all recreational beach activities, including fishing or surfing, swimming, bait collection and picking up of dead species. Collecting or harvesting of any marine living resource in the area is temporarily prohibited as they could have been exposed to toxic chemicals and could be harmful to human health.

This warning and temporary closure of beaches remains in place until the threat has been determined to be abated.

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