Officials' emergency meeting over sludge at Jumeirah Beach

Municipal officials insist that a brown slime that leaked into the waters near the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club cannot have come from the storm water drainage system.

The brown sludge that polluted the water off Jumeirah Beach last Friday has baffled municipality officials.
Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // Brown sludge that polluted the water off Jumeirah Beach last Friday has baffled municipality officials.

Salah Amiri, the assistant director general of the Environmental and Public Health Services Sector, called an urgent meeting for all department heads yesterday, hoping to determine the cause.

A senior employee said Mr Amiri was very upset to learn that Dubai Central Laboratories had not yet completed tests on a sample of the pollution.

"We were surprised to hear that almost a week later, the lab had not completed its report," said the source. "Things seemed to go downhill from there as it became clear that nobody had any information as to the source of the pollution, or how it got to the beach."

Dubai Offshore Sailing Club (DOSC) called the municipality on Friday morning to report that sludge had covered much of its marina and part of the neighbouring Jumeirah Beach.

"It looks like industrial waste. There's oil in it too because you can see the rainbow effect on top of it," Bret Trevethan, acting general manager of DOSC, said on Friday.

Witnesses have said the sludge was leaking from the storm-drain system, which is linked to Al Quoz Industrial Area.

But reports from the Drainage and Irrigation Network Department state this is impossible, because Storm Water Station DB17, the one located near DOSC, had an electrical fault on Thursday evening at 7pm and was not repaired until Friday at 8.30pm.

"We received a call to shut down the station on Friday morning when the incident was reported, which is part of our procedure if there is suspected contamination," the source said. "But the station had already been down for hours prior to that.

"At this point, the municipality still has no idea what the pollutant was or how it got to the beach.

"All they can say for certain is that it couldn't have come through the storm-water system."

He added that leads in the investigation should come from the results of the lab test.

Four years ago, illegal sewage dumping in Al Quoz contaminated beaches along the same stretch.

"When is comes to illegal dumping in the storm-water system, there is very little we can do to prevent it," said an official from the Drainage and Irrigation Network department. "These guys are there and gone in a matter of minutes. That is not enough time to respond, even if we had an alarm on every manhole.

"We've thought of using locks and welding the manholes shut, but these ideas are just not practical.

"The best we can do is make it easier for them to use the legal channels, which is what we've done so far, but you will always have violators."