Chinese Cargo Ship Allowed To Dump Toxic Cargo In South African Waters

South African authorities have made plans to dump unstable chemicals at sea after a reaction with rainwater at the time of offloading from NS Qingdao, a bulk carrier, in Durban. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment signed off on an emergency order which would allow the carrier to dump its reactive cargo between St. Helena Bay and Mzansi.

NS Qingdao had arrived at Durban Port in late October leaking toxic fumes. Its cargo included 1,500 tons of Sodium Metabisulphite, Caustic Calcined Magnesite, and Magnesium Nitrate Hexahydrate. The process is to be wrapped up by March 15, 2022. The incident has sparked fury among environmentalists. One green activist asked why was the ocean being used for dumping toxic waste when the responsibility to take care of oceans was ours?

Toxic Waste
Image Credits: Dr. Hollings / amsa.org.za

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has tried to downplay the potential of the fumes to damage the environment. It must be noted here that large amounts of sulfur dioxide can lead to fatalities.

The permit, as seen by the green activist, raises questions on whether the dumping of waste at sea is even the most environmentally friendly, socially acceptable, and economically prudent option available to authorities.

Toxic Waste Dump
Image Credits: Dr. Hollings / amsa.org.za

Activists have demanded more transparency from the authorities. SAMSA, on the other hand, has stressed that there was nothing illicit about the decision to grant permission to dump the waste at sea.

Toxic Waste Dump
Image Credits: Dr. Hollings / amsa.org.za

This stretch of the Atlantic Ocean lies along the migration route of leatherback turtles, a threatened species.

Reference: samsa.org.za

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