FEARS of potentially deadly health risks from contaminated water forced the immediate closure of two of Nelson Mandela Bay’s largest cemeteries yesterday.
The Forest Hill Cemetery and the Papenkuils Cemetery in Stanford Road in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas were closed by the municipality because weeks of heavy rain have saturated both graveyards.
The municipality was alerted to the situation after a prominent funeral service raised concerns about potential health hazards to its workers who dig graves in the cemeteries and have, in some cases, managed to excavate only a few feet of earth before encountering water.
Concerns were also raised over the possibility that excess water from the Forest Hill Cemetery could penetrate ground water in the adjacent Summerstrand area which has a number of boreholes.
In a statement issued to the city’s funeral industry yesterday on behalf of the parks and cemeteries department, the municipal public health directorate said it was "with great regret that we are announcing the closure of Forest Hill and Papenkuils cemeteries for any burials and monumental works”.
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