THE Department of Labour has issued an order prohibiting any work activity at the site of the recent South Coast Road fire until further notice. Investigators are compiling information into what led to the industrial blaze as they continue their investigation into the incident, which took place last month.
At the time, questions around fire safety emerged as it appeared that the water supply had not been available when the building went up in flames.
MEC for economic development in the province, Sihle Zikalala says a full report is still being compiled, which would include an assessment of the potential effects the smoke from the burnt plastic and wax stored in the warehouse might have on communities.
Meanwhile Earth Life Africa is calling for a full and independent investigation into the cause of the fire and is accountability from the eThekwini Municipality and Transnet.
The South Durban basin is one of Africa’s largest petroleum clusters, but according to environmental experts, there is no database on what liquids or fuels are kept on the premises, making it difficult to pin down the source of fires which have occurred in the area.
Between 2000 to 2017 more than 55 major fire incidents occurred in the South Durban basin, averaging more than three major incidents per year.
Transnet’s Molatwane Likhethe says the parastatal is co-operating fully with investigations into what caused the fire at its South Coast Road warehouse.
“We’re not sure what those finds were, but what we are saying as a responsible company is that we will learn our processes, and conclude them. Once we are done we’ll be the first ones to indicate what’s happening.”
Some of the major fire incidents that have occurred in the South Durban area over the past few years include:
-Black Wednesday from SAPREF Fire 21 April 2004
-Fire at Engen refinery 16 April 2006
-Fire at Island View Storage, 18 September 2007, six tanks were gutted and four others damaged in a chemical blaze. One worker was killed, the fire released 64 times the emissions that are the upper limit of leukemia, and bromomethane another carcinogen.
-Fire at Engen refinery 19 November 2007, storage tank with seven million litres of petrol burned to the ground over 58 hours.
Earlier this year, three SANDF soldiers and three civilians died after a methane gas leak caused the death of six people at the Durban Naval base. The incident happened while members of the Department of Public Works were working on a sewage valve when gas fumes leaked out and affected their breathing. They tried to escape the pit, however they were overwhelmed by the toxic gases and passed out.