MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. is pleased to report the conclusion of the Durban harbour clean-up following a freak storm and wishes to reassure the public that the remaining assessment and clean-up of “nurdles” on South African beaches will continue into 2018.
The “nurdles” which have turned up on the beaches are pea-sized pre-production plastic pellets used to make every day household objects such as plastic cups and paddling pools. They were being transported in two shipping containers which fell into the water during normal discharge operations on 10 October. The containers were particularly vulnerable at that time, as they had been loosened for unloading, in line with standard port operations procedures, when the hurricane-force winds, torrential rains and flash-floods hit the port of Durban and surrounding region in what amounted to a provincial disaster.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority attributed the cause of the incident to the unexpected severity of the storm, not to any negligence by MSC or the cargo owner.
As MSC has reported in previous statements, the clean-up is being led by Nick Sloane of Resolve Marine Group, a salvage and emergency response company with global experience and local knowledge. Resolve, working with South African company Drizit Environmental, has been assessing beaches via light aircraft and drone surveillance, in vehicles and on foot, and deploying teams where appropriate to extract the “nurdles”.
MSC thanks the members of the public who have performed the civic duty of identifying “nurdle” deposits, as this helps the clean-up teams target their work.
Due to the weather, ocean currents and tidal movements, “nurdles” have appeared gradually since the storm and certain beaches have been re-charged after the initial cleaning. The teams have worked tirelessly from 4.30am each day to scour the coastline to the north and south of Durban, to Port Elizabeth and beyond.
Resolve and Drizit have used boat patrols, dive teams, industrial vacuums, spades and giant sieves to locate and extract the “nurdles”. During the Christmas holiday period efforts are being focused away from the crowds at popular beaches in order to be as efficient as possible.
The issue continues to be treated with urgency and volunteer groups are playing an important complementary role in picking up “nurdles” and leaving them at designated collection points for Resolve and Drizit to retrieve.
Resolve and Drizit attend regular meetings with the Department of Environmental Affairs, South African Maritime Safety Authority, Transnet National Ports Authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and environmental groups to discuss the progress of current operations and forward planning.
MSC and its insurers wish to highlight that Resolve and Drizit were engaged before any formal instruction from the South African government and that the clean-up has been led by the private sector and volunteers from the public since the beginning.
The government has at no point criticized the response from MSC or its insurers and an October 27 directive requiring MSC to take action as the ship owner affected by the storm was issued only as a formality. MSC is pleased to have had some positive feedback from local communities on the quality of work being performed.
Journalists can contact MSC at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland: firstname.lastname@example.org