Category: <span>Oil Spills</span>

2022 12 08 Media Statement 5: The majority of beaches have been cleaned of hydrocarbon oil drops

Media Statement 5: The majority of beaches have been cleaned of hydrocarbon oil drops

For Immediate Release
8 December 2022

Beach clean-up activities and monitoring continue following a recent incident that resulted in hydrocarbon, low-sulphur oil droplets spreading to Garden Route beaches.

According to Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager: Disaster Management, most beaches are now classified as ‘green’. “It is unlikely that the multi-agency command center will meet again unless new serious issues arise.”

There have been no reports linking the oil spill to humans, birds, or marine life.

Members of the media and public can access the real-time colour-coded map of the region here to see the status of beaches: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/2dff978cb8e9493dadc58ccd2ab9163b/

The status of beaches is included below:

If any member of the public notices small black pellets on any beach along the Garden Route, please report it to the Emergency Call Centre, 044 805 5071.

The Garden Route District Municipality Multi-Agency Command Centre (MACC)  includes the following stakeholders:  Garden Route District Municipality, Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay and Hessequa Municipalities, Provincial Disaster Management Centre, South African Maritime Safety Authority, DFFE: Oceans-to-Coast, Transnet, CapeNature, PetroSA, South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

ENDS

5 December 2022 Media Statement 4: Several beaches given the ‘green light’

Media Statement 4: Several beaches given the ‘green light’

For Immediate Release
5 December 2022

One week later and clean-up operations of beaches along the Garden Route will continue following the reports of stranded hydrocarbon, low-sulphur oil droplets. These droplets were found along the coastline of the Garden Route towards the end of November 2022.

According to Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager: Disaster Management, several beaches are now classified as ‘green’, and priority is to finalise cleaning busier beaches, including Blue Flag ones, as the holiday season moves closer. “We are also meeting less frequently now as beaches return to normal. We will only meet at 14h00 on Thursday again.”

There have been no reports linking the oil spill to humans, birds, or marine life.

Members of the media and public can access the real-time colour-coded map of the region here to see the status of beaches: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/2dff978cb8e9493dadc58ccd2ab9163b/

The status of beaches is included below:

 

Next update: Another update will be issued tomorrow, 8 December 2022.

If any member of the public notices small black pellets on any beach along the Garden Route, please report it to the Emergency Call Centre, 044 805 5071.

The Garden Route District Municipality Multi-Agency Command Centre (MACC)  includes the following stakeholders:  Garden Route District Municipality, Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay and Hessequa Municipalities, Provincial Disaster Management Centre, South African Maritime Safety Authority, DFFE: Oceans-to-Coast, Transnet, CapeNature, PetroSA, South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

ENDS

2 December 2022 Media Statement 3: Beach monitoring and clean-up activities continue along the Garden Route coastline

Media Statement 3: Beach monitoring and clean-up activities continue along the Garden Route coastline

For Immediate Release
2 December 2022

Clean-up operations will continue over the weekend. Feedback received during a multi-agency response session this morning about the stranded hydrocarbon, low-sulphur oil droplets, indicates that we are nearing the end of the incident. Along the Garden Route beaches, the windy conditions and high-impact swells have yielded little to no new oil droplets.

According to Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager: Disaster Management, it is important to note that there are manual and natural clean-ups of beaches. With this, it is meant that within three days, the droplets will no longer be visible to the naked eye, depending on their size.

There have been no reports of the spill affecting humans, birds, or marine life. According to Dr Nina Viljoen, Head of Environmental Management at GRDM, no estuaries along the Garden Route have been contaminated. Nevertheless, continuous assessments will be conducted over the weekend, responders will be on standby, and monitoring will take place for any further evidence of oil contamination. In the multi-agency response engagement, it was stressed that monitoring of birds would be extended if the response was scaled down since it is difficult to catch flying birds.

In collaboration with the municipality’s Geographic Information System Unit, GRDM Disaster Management developed an interactive map showing beach colour codes in real-time. This platform can be accessed here.

The current status of beaches is included below:

Next update: Another update will be issued tomorrow, 5 December 2022.

If any member of the public notices small black pellets on any beach along the Garden Route, please report it to the Emergency Call Centre, 044 805 5071.

The Garden Route District Municipality Multi-Agency Command Centre (MACC)  includes the following stakeholders:  Garden Route District Municipality, Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay and Hessequa Municipalities, Provincial Disaster Management Centre, South African Maritime Safety Authority, DFFE: Oceans-to-Coast, Transnet, CapeNature, PetroSA, South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

ENDS

1 December 2022 Media Statement 2: Several beaches re-opened while some still being cleaned from stranded oil

Media Statement 2: Several beaches re-opened while some are still being cleaned from stranded oil

For Immediate Release
1 December 2022

More than 100 trained individuals are cleaning-up stranded hydrocarbon, low-sulphur fuel oil droplets at more than twenty (20) beaches along the Garden Route. Efforts have resulted in several beaches already moving to green status, which include all the Blue Flag Beaches of Mossel Bay. While assessments found that several others in George, Hessequa, Knysna and Bitou were also affected by the spill, clean-up teams have already responded promptly to remove droplets.

According to Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager: Disaster Management: “Holiday-goers and residents can be assured that the region is ready for its upcoming holiday season”. “The multi-agency response team indicated that most beaches will be cleaned by the end of this weekend, dependent on the 3.5m swells expected tonight.”

According to Otto, the reconnaissance flight planned for yesterday could not take place due to foggy weather conditions, thus, being postponed to today. The plane is currently flying from Plettenberg Bay to Gouritz along the coastline and will paint a clear picture of any visible patches of oil along the coastline and possibly identify the cause of the spill.

There are cleaning stations at beaches, and areas that need to be cleaned are clearly marked. It has not been reported that human health has been affected. No sightings of sea birds or marine life have been reported either.

Beaches that received green status will be visited again after the predicted 3.5m swell and a north-north-west wind, to ensure that no new wash-up of droplets is prevalent.

An outline of the status of beaches along the Garden Route is listed below.

Footage: Video footage taken during a reconnaissance flight today did not find any large areas where oil spills are visible.

Next update: Another update will be issued tomorrow, 2 December 2022.

If any member of the public notices small black pellets on any beach along the Garden Route, please report it to the Emergency Call Centre, 044 805 5071.

The Garden Route District Municipality Multi-Agency Command Centre (MACC)  includes the following stakeholders:  Garden Route District Municipality, Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay and Hessequa Municipalities, Provincial Disaster Management Centre, South African Maritime Safety Authority, DFFE: Oceans-to-Coast, Transnet, CapeNature, PetroSA, South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

ENDS

30 November 2022 Media Statement 1: Clean-up of Garden Route beaches underway

Media Statement: Clean-up of Garden Route beaches underway

For Immediate Release
30 November 2022

The Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Joint Operations Centre (JOC) hosted a meeting today with a number of key stakeholders to discuss the current state of the small-scale oil/hydrocarbons spill that was detected on some of the Garden Route beaches in the last day or two. The key objective is to mitigate the effects of oil droplets on the environment and marine life, as well as to promptly clean the temporarily closed beaches and re-open them before the holiday season.

Cleaning teams on the ground in Mossel Bay use a water filtration system to float off droplets of oil from exposed areas of sand collected from the affected beaches. This will be duplicated elsewhere where beaches are temporarily affected by the contaminants. In addition to this, estuaries that are currently open i.e. Hartenbos, Kleinbrak, Knysna, as well as Keurbooms, are closely monitored for any droplets.

The droplets are notably higher in density during high tide and their size of them differs per area. The Hessequa local municipality indicated that the ones found at the Gouritz beach were only the size of the head of a match, Bitou Municipality found 5mm size ones and  Mossel Bay found larger ones.

The way forward is for GRDM to have specialists from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, as well as South African National Parks, do a reconnaissance flight later today or early tomorrow morning (dependent on the weather), to scan the coastline from Gouritz to Plettenberg Bay. This will assist them to determine the origin of the spill as well as monitoring if any others are still en route to any of the Garden Route beaches.

While the clean-up and isolation actions are underway, beaches will be classified according to specific colour codes: green, orange, and red. These indicate the readiness of beaches for the public to access them again. The following beaches in the Mossel Bay municipal area have already been classified.

 

The various colour codes used at the moment.

An idea of how the density of droplets on beaches is linked to the colour-codes.

 

CAUTION

Members of the public are urged to stay pro-active by not walking on beaches that are closed or swimming in red or orange-classified beach areas until further notice. For those who mistakenly access areas where beaches are closed and come into contact with the oily substance, foot-cleaning stations will be set up. There is already one at the Hartenbos Blue Flag beach.

Possible cleaning methods if you do come into contact with oil droplets:

Step 1: Combine a teaspoon of baking soda and a quarter of a cup of normal white vinegar in a mixing bowl.

Step 2: Scrub your hands with the baking soda and vinegar mixture.

Step 3: After rinsing your hands in water, wash them with regular soap and water.

Or use a normal grease-cutting hand cleaner.

TOURISM

It is not likely that the temporary closure of some beaches will have an impact on the holiday season ahead. Cleaning of beaches are underway, and several beaches are ready to be re-opened again.

Next update: Another update will be issued tomorrow, 1 December 2022.

If any member of the public notices small black pellets on any beach along the Garden Route, please report it to the Emergency Call Centre, 044 805 5071.

The Garden Route District Municipality Joint Operations Centre includes the following stakeholders:  Garden Route District Municipality, Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay and Hessequa Municipalities, Provincial Disaster Management Centre, South African Maritime Association, DFFE: Oceans to Coast, Transnet, CapeNature, PetroSA, South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).