Umbilo River, Durban. Photo: Twitter.

Transnet said today it had implemented containment measures to limit the extent of the crude oil spillage which occurred on 19 October in the Bellair area of Durban, into the Umbilo River and the harbour, due to an attempted theft incident on a crude oil pipeline.

There have been more than 80 fuel theft incidents this financial year, according to Transnet, which operates 3,800 kilometres of high pressure petroleum and gas pipelines across five provinces. Costs of such problems are “significant”, it said, for it has to repair damaged pipelines and remedy environmental problems caused.

Transnet has worked with law enforcement agencies, leading to numerous arrests, and has impounded various vehicles, including fuel tankers. It was reported this week that a man was sentenced in Vereeniging to 10 years for siphoning R300,000 worth of fuel from a Transnet pipeline.

The KwaZulu-Natal government today said it had assigned a team of environmentalists to work with Transnet on the spillage in Bellair.

“As the department, we wish to indicate that at this stage, we are working with all role players to implement spill containment measures to prevent damage to the environment,” KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, said.

Additional reporting by