Water News

Environmental group threatens to sue authority if acid mine drainage not cleaned up

Written by  Sheree Bega Monday, 20 February 2012 01:50
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment will sue the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) if it doesn't start cleaning up the acid mine drainage (AMD) poisoning the Witwatersrand.


The environmental group wants desalination to be included in the AMD clean up process because the TCTA's option of neutralising AMD will "amount to pollution, degradation, and damage to the environment." It has criticised the TCTA for failing to involve the public in decision-making.
"The proposed neutralisation (high density sludge) of AMD as a short term and immediate address is not best practice, it is ineffective and will result in adverse impacts upon the ecology and downstream water users and uses," said Mariette Liefferink of the federation. "It's simply a money issue since insufficient funds have been made available by the government for the effective treatment of AMD."
The federation says the neutralisation process is "defective and was reached without consultation and input from experts in the field and the public..."
The TCTA have added the gypsum process, which involves using lime to neutralise the acidity of the water and remove toxic heavy metals, despite this not being recommended in the final draft report by the government appointed team of experts that investigated the AMD crisis affecting the Witwatersrand's mining basins.
Nigel Roussouw, of the TCTA's environment department, said it was studying the letter from the LRC.
The TCTA is upgrading an existing treatment plant at Rand Uranium / Gold 1 to pump and partially treat 36 million litres of AMD pouring daily out of the flooded Western Basin by next month, and hopes to build a new treatment plant to augment capacity later this year, but is still awaiting funding from Water Affairs.
But tempers are rising. At a special Western Basin Void Decant meeting this week, Stephan du Toit, a senior Mogale City environmental official, said the government and the TCTA had given no thought to the rehabilitation needed after neutralisation, which had worsened conditions in the Tweelopiespruit system.
The neutralisation process causes the heavy metals in the AMD to precipitate out of the water, but does not remove the high levels of sulphates, which flow untreated into waterways.
"What we've seen now is the total ecological destruction of the Tweelopiespruit system."
At the meeting, government officials said while neutralisation was not the ideal treatment, it was a "useful first step" .
Judith Taylor of Earthlife Africa, said communities were paying for pollution.
"We're seeing children with skin lesions and brain damage, TB and they are not HIV-positive."

MINING

Ransacked Gold Mine Venture Reboots

South African mining veteran Peter Skeat is pressing ahead with plans to squeeze more gold out of an 80-year-old ransacked gold mine west of Johannesburg after settling a dispute with three former partners.

Coal Mines leave a legacy of ruin

Oxpeckers publishes never-before-seen data exposing the lack of mine closures, d...

Tours of West Rand gold fields

The FSE conducts regular tours with interested and affected parties, of the West...

SA NEWS

LLM/MPhil in Environmental Law Programme launched

  The Department of Public Law at the University of Pretoria hosted a launch of its LLM and MPhil programmes in Environmental Law, coordinated by Ms Melanie Murcott, Senior Lecturer, Environmental and Administrative Law, in February 2017.

Water Show

The FSE will be presenting at a keynote panel discussion at "The Water Show Africa" on the 29th of March.

Lauded for research on SA acid mine drainage

The launch of Acid mine drainage in South Africa: Development actors, policy impacts and broader implications, by Suvania Naidoo, took place on 10 February 2017. The book has proven to be a timely publication because of the incipient water crisis in South Africa. The event was hosted by Unisa’s Department of Development Studies in the College of Human Sciences. The guests were welcomed by the chair of the department, Prof Gretchen du Plessis, who expressed that “development studies is an ever-changing discipline and is a space where different issues converge”. She further stated that the book fills a void in our knowledge about acid mine drainage (AMD) and that the publication is “an example of hard work which results in big achievements”.

Truth of the dust that brings death

  A new hard-hitting report from Harvard Law School details how South Africa has failed to meet its human rights obligations concerning gold mining in and around Joburg. Bonnie Docherty, who led the research, spoke to Sheree Bega

WATER

Eastern Basin acid water plant is "sledgehammer"

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has used a "sledgehammer" for its R1bn treatment plant for acid mine drainage (AMD) on the Eastern mining basin that could ultimately create more toxic water.  This is the view of water strategy and consulting mining hydrologist Kym Morton, who believes government is "wasting money" by pumping large volumes of water and adding lime that makes it alkaline but still toxic and hazardous. 

SABC Health Talk, Environmental Health: 25 February 2017

Focus on preventing illness rather than incurring the expense of treatment....

Rand Water tightens the taps in Gauteng

In the Midvaal suburb where Sipho Mosai lives, the gardens are lush and green be...