Toxic and Radioactive Super-dumps

Posted: August 16, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Secret South Africa has published a number of posts about the Acid Water Crisis that is threatening the city of Joburg. But in addition to the Acid Water, it seems that there is something else that South Africans should be worried about.

According to an article published by The Saturday Star on August 7th, two of South Africa’s mining giants, Rand Uranium and Gold Fields are planning to create major toxic and radioactive super-dumps. The mining companies are planning to create the two super-dumps near farming communities in the high-yield agricultural area near Carletonville and Geluksdal.

According to The Saturday Star, the combined of the dumps would result in a deposit of around one billion tons of uraniferous tailings. Yes, you read correctly. One BILLION TONS of uraniferous tailings. Investigations around uraniferous tailings have concluded that they transfer radio nuclides to nearby vegetation which is extremely unhealthy for humans.

Not only do these dumps affect vegetation, toxic and radioactive pollutants also seep into groundwater sources. This could only add to the heavy metals such as uranium and sulphates have been found in high concentration in the acid water underneath Johannesburg.

After 120 years of gold mining in Gauteng’s West Rand, the area has become one of the country’s most polluted areas and a serious public health risk. The new plans to create additional dumps is a concern for local farmers. So much so that emerging black farmers, the Mhatammoho Agricultural Union, and the potentially affected landowners organized a second protest in April citing the fact that the community was never consulted about creation of new mine dumps.

And it seems as if they have just cause. The have been numerous reports that the mines in the area have had an overwhelmingly negative effect on local water supplies. Fish in nearby water sources in the area have been found dead and residents have also reported breaking out into vicious rashes after wearing clothes that had been washed in local water. Farmers have also noticed the livestock, particularly chickens, have been dying at an abnormal rate. It is clear that the radioactivity contained in the waste is not conductive to sustaining animal and human life. Special Assignment covered this issue and you can see their report here.  Clearly, the creation of more super-dumps would only make the situation worse.

The surrounding areas have been subject to over a century’s worth of toxic mining waste. What other effects has this had of the local communities? We only know what has been uncovered but how many stories have yet to be told?

How will South Africa’s toxic and radioactive materials physically affect our population. The long-term effects cannot be good. Why is government making no significant inroads towards legislation protecting our water and agriculture from greedy mining companies?

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