During the George veldt fires end of last year, Geelhoutvlei Timbers situated in Karatara, was almost completely destroyed. This tragic incident raised fears that Arsenic-treated wood stored on the premises could contaminate the water sources in the immediate surroundings.
Geelhoutvlei Timbers reacted pro-actively and contained the Chromated Copper Arsenate used at their treatment plant. Surrounding residents still feared that the locations where the treated timber was stored could downwash into the nearby water sources. In order to determine if these fears are justified, the Garden Route District Municipality Air Quality Unit took representative samples for independent laboratory analysis on 17 January 2019. Outcomes of tests done were made available to GRDM on 14 February 2019.
It was confirmed that both water and soil arsenic samples took at various sampling points comply with the Total Concentration (TC) threshold for arsenic expressed as mg/kg or mg/l.
Four samples were taken, of which the results are as follow:
- Sample 1 – Karatara cement bridge – <0.001mg/l
- Sample 2 – 1st dam on Geelhoutvlei Timbers premises – <0.001mg/l
- Sample 3 – De Wit dam – <0.001mg/l
- Sample 4 – Hoogekraal bridge – <0.001mg/l
RESULT: Detection limits are 0.001mg/l and which is an indication that Arsenic was not detected in the water.
Three soil samples were taken at all the points where treated wood was stored on the Geelhoutvlei Timbers premises:
- Sample 5 – Treated Timber area: 8.64mg/kg
- Sample 6 – Pole Yard-East- <0.20mg/kg
- Sample 7 – Front pole yard- 3mg/kg
RESULT: The Total Concentration (TC) threshold for Arsenic is 500mg/kg.
Chemtech laboratory used the Draft Standard for assessment of waste for landfill disposal as a reference for thresholds.
The Garden Route DM Air Quality Unit is in the process to ensure that the contained arsenic on the premises is disposed of at an approved hazardous waste landfill site (if not done already).