South Africa dispatches chemical plant pollution control team

(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s Ministry of the Environment has dispatched a team to the eastern coastal city of Durban to try to contain air and water pollution from a chemical plant that was set on fire during violent protests.

The plant, which is owned by the Indian agrochemical company UPL Ltd. owned, produces herbicides, fungicides and pesticides and is located in one of the areas hardest hit by days of unrest and looting in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Residents who had difficulty getting bread, milk and other staple foods after the riots reported seeing gray clouds of smoke near the site.

“We are deeply concerned about the environmental impact on air quality and on the aquatic and marine ecosystems resulting from the fire incident at the UPL facility,” said Barbara Creecy, Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, in a statement on Wednesday. “The priority at this stage is to ensure that the effects are mitigated and that containment measures are effective.”

The facility went up in flames on July 12th and continued to burn for days. There have been reports of the water flowing into a lagoon and changing color, and dead fish washing up on land. The nearby Indian Ocean beaches will remain closed to the public.

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