Transnet Pipelines (TPL) has implemented containment measures to limit the extent of the crude oil spillage which occurred on 19 October in the Bellair area, Durban as a result of an attempted theft incident on the crude oil pipeline. A criminal case has been opened.
The pipeline was operational when the tampering incident was detected on Monday morning. Transnet activated its emergency response plan and team whose focus was on limiting the extent of the spillage and recovering product.
The crude oil contaminated the uMbilo River and has reached the harbour. As a precautionary measure, no fishing will be permitted in the harbour area for the next seven days. Absorbent booms and fibre have been placed in strategic places along the river to prevent further downstream migration, and free product is being recovered from the stream and harbour as part of the clean-up process.
Transnet has completed repairs to the pipeline and it is back in operation, averting any security of supply challenges in the inland market area.
Thus far, in the current financial year, there have been over 80 incidents of fuel theft, including attempted theft, i.e. tampering with pipeline infrastructure with the intention to steal fuel. The costs of these incidents are significant and include the cost of product, repairs and environmental rehabilitation where the fuel theft incidents have resulted in environmental damage.
TPL has implemented various action plans to address the continuing fuel theft incidents, some of which have yielded positive results in the past. These include collaborating with law enforcement agencies, which has led to numerous arrests, and impounding vehicles and fuel tankers.
The first successful conviction was recently obtained and the perpetrator was sentenced to 13 years in prison. The pipeline is classified as essential infrastructure, therefore tampering, or colluding to tamper, is a Schedule 5 offence in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, Act 18 of 2015.
TPL has appealed to the public to report any suspicious behaviour on the toll-free number -0800 203 843.