UPL not duly licensed to operate Cornubia plant, DFFE investigation finds


Forests, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said the aftermath of the UPL arson would go down in history as one of Africa’s most serious environmental disasters. South.

FILE: The UPL chemical plant in Durban was burnt down in riots and looting that hit the region in July. Photo: @ DA_KZN / Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – A preliminary investigation by the Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Department found that chemical giant United Phosphorus Limited was not properly licensed to operate its Cornubia chemical plant, which was burnt down during the lawlessness that rocked South Africa in July.

Minister Barbara Creecy released the damning report on the investigation into the Durban environmental disaster.

The investigation found that UPL, which stores various types of chemicals, was operating illegally after failing to obtain several mandatory approvals from government regulators. It also failed to obtain a critical risk assessment and building permit for the eThekwini metro.

Creecy said the aftermath of the UPL arson would go down in history as one of South Africa’s most severe environmental disasters.

“They didn’t do the risk assessment and because they weren’t known to be a major risk institution, when the fire broke out, firefighters weren’t aware of what was stored in the warehouse. They used water to put out the flames, [which] flowed into the tributary of Umhlanga and from there into the estuary and this whole ecosystem died, ”Creecy said.

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