MSC Accelerates Durban Harbour Clean-up After Freak Storm Caused “Nurdle” Spill


MSC Accelerates Durban Harbour Clean-up After Freak Storm Caused “Nurdle” Spill


MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company is accelerating the clean-up of plastic pellets known as “nurdles” after a freak storm caused a quantity of cargo to fall into Durban harbour.

As a leading global container shipping line, MSC calls frequently at the Port of Durban and imports a variety of materials and goods that play a key role in the South African economy, including foodstuffs and industrial products. MSC is a key supporter of South African importers and exporters in all industries.

Small, pre-production plastic pellets are legal cargo with practical purposes, such as the manufacture of plastic bottles, buckets, children’s toys and paddling pool liners. MSC transports these pellets between the companies which make them and the companies that use them for manufactured goods.

Unfortunately, some of these pellets made their way from the cargo-owner’s bags into the water of Durban harbour during the epic storm of 10 October.

MSC is facing storm-damage losses of about $10 million due to impact of the severe weather on three MSC ships on that day. Wind and rain ravaged the harbour, roads and homes in what amounted to a provincial disaster.

MSC is grateful to the members of the public who acted as first responders and helping with the initial stages of the clean-up, before the owner of the cargo of plastic pellets appointed a specialist company, Drizit Environmental, to clean 200 kilometres of beaches. For its part, MSC also moved swiftly to engage an experienced global salvage and emergency response company, Resolve Marine Group, led by industry-leading expert Nick Sloane, as noted in an earlier statement on 28 October.

Although the spill is undisputedly due to a natural phenomenon of extraordinary magnitude for which MSC is not at fault, MSC has taken over the clean-up of the harbour in recent days in order to expedite the process. As a global marine company we have deep knowledge of how to tackle such situations and we have strong relationships with experts in the field.

Resolve and Drizit, which have been collaborating on the problem since 24 October, have stepped up the clean-up and are now using specialized boats and machinery to extract materials from the harbour water. Workers are also painstakingly sieving sand by hand on the beaches in search of “nurdles”.

MSC wishes to clarify that the government is acting only as a monitor of the work led by the shipping line and cargo owner and MSC of course does not expect the taxpayer to foot the bill for the clean-up.

MSC also continues to cooperate with Transnet National Ports Authority and all the parties involved in the clean-up are in daily contact.

All media enquiries should be addressed to MSC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland: / +41 79 754 8827