Nuclearisation of Africa - Conference in pictures

Residents left in the dark over AMD treatment

Monday, 13 February 2017 11:54
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has been accused of “authorising pollution”, after its water quality tests for its acid mine drainage (AMD) plants in the Witwatersrand surpassed the government’s own water resource quality objectives.

“The graphs reveal the manganese, the sulphate and the electrical conductivity for the Central and Eastern Basins treated AMD significantly exceeds the legally binding water resource quality standards and resource quality objectives for the Upper Vaal”, explains Mariette Liefferink, chief executive of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE).  “The same is true (for) the discharges of the treated AMD into the Tweelopiespruit, which is part of the Crocodile West Water Management Area.”

AMD refers to the flow, or seepage, of polluted water from old mining areas.  The FSE had launched a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application, together with the Centre for Environmental Rights, to obtain the results of the water quality monitoring of neutralised AMD discharged from the Eastern, Central and Western Basins AMD treatment plants in the Blesbokspruit, Elsburgspruit, a tributary to the Klip River, and the Tweelopiespruit, on the West Rand.

“The numerical limits for manganese, sulphate and electrical conductivity are non-compliant with the water resource quality for the Vaal and Crocodile west/Limpopo water management areas.  Concisely stated, the DWS has authorised pollution”, says Liefferink.

In its response to Liefferink, the DWS stresses that “due to technical, operational limitations and financial constraints the determinants are limited to the key parameters indicative of AMD” and it only measures electrical conductivity, manganese, iron and pH.  But AMD, says Liefferink, contains a broad spectrum of heavy metals in elevated concentrations such as lead cobalt, the metalloid arsenic, long-living cyanide complexes, cobalt, nickel and uranium.

Next week, the DWS and the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority will officially launch the Eastern Basin’s AMD plant, one of the largest high-density sludge plants in the world, with a maximum treatment capacity of 110 million litres a day.  It has been in operation since August.

“The neutralised AMD that is discharged into the Blesbokspruit, which hosts the Marievale Bird Sanctuary, contains highlevels of sulphate.  This is between 1 300mg to 1 460[mg/l.  The water resource quality objectives for the Vaal are 600mg/l for sulphate. The water also contains elevated levels of sulphate and electrical conductivity]” says Liefferink.

In 2014, the location of the sludge facility for the plant was the subject of a petition over fears of water contamination and blasting.  “The sludge from the Eastern Basin is disposed into the Grootvlei Shaft 3.  No environmental impact assessment was conducted to determine the impacts.  The sludge contains toxic and radioactive metals.  The impacts of the sludge on downstream water users, the groundwater and the ecology have not been assessed”, Liefferink says.

But the DWS says an environmental authorisation for the interim trail deposition of sludge from the Eastern Basin AMD plant into the Grootvlei 3 shaft was not required.  “Prior to commissioning, the proposed interim trial deposition of sludge into the shaft was presented to the authorities (with) no requirement for environmental authorisation.”

Philip de Jager, a trustee of the Grootvaly Blesbokspruit Conservation Trust, and who represents residents who raised concerns over the sludge disposal, has no knowledge of the opening next week.  “But this does not surprise me as input by the locals is usually ignored,” he says.

 

 (Please note:  The typographical errors are the FSE’s and not the Saturday Star’s.)

Read 14979 times

FSE IN SA MINING

The FSE contributed to the article titled “Caught between a rock and hard place”...

SA NEWS

FSE - DONATION OF TREES AND TREE PLANTING IN SIMUNYE, WEST RAND IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOUTH DEEP MINE

The FSE, in association with Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine, donated 40 white Karee Trees (Searsia penduline) during Arbor Week to the mining affected community of Simunye in the West Rand and participated in the tree planting ceremony with the community of Simunye, the local Municipality and officials from South Deep Mine.  The FSE also delivered a presentation during the ceremony.

"Varkies" gou op hok, maar als nie pluis | Beeld

Article also available for download as an attachment.

Radon Alert - Carte Blanche

Millions of South Africans are exposed to radioactive radon gas in their homes and workplaces every day, as the naturally occurring gas escapes through cracks in the earth. The second leading cause of lung cancer in several countries, radon breaks down and when inhaled, decaying atoms emit alpha radiation that can damage the DNA. There are no safe levels of radon concentration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency emphasises any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. Carte Blanche investigates why South Africa has no regulations to protect against radon accumulation in the home and what you can do to test your home and prevent lung cancer.   Watch the video here.

WITS Economics & Finance Courses: Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage

Economics & Finance Courses at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage - Understand taxation for development and sustainability in mining. View the course here. Enrolment starts on the 7th of October 2019.

WATER

POLLUTION OF THE VAAL RIVER INTERVENTION AS PRESENTED at Rietspruit Forum - Aug 2020

The Intervention document is attached for download.

Development of the National Eutrophication Strategy and Supporting Documents

Attached documents:1. DWS Eutrophication SA & GA PSC 1 BID2. PSC 1 Meeting A...

Fears of long term damage to SA's water supply as eutrophication strangles rivers and dams | IOL

Toxic green algae in the Vaal River is caused by eutrophication, which harms wat...