Nuclear News

Mine dumps - "toxic threat"

Written by  Mel Frykberg - The New Age Wednesday, 04 January 2012 08:49
Rate this item
(11 votes)

Despite intensive and extensive investigations undertaken and reports issued by several government departments several years ago into the health hazards associated with a toxic environment in the Johannesburg region, the situation persists with little to no remedial action taken to date.

"The contaminated areas have been identified and the need for comprehensive monitoring and study, as well as toxicological and epidemiological studies in affected communities, is imperative," Mariette Liefferink from the Federation for a Sustainable Environment told The New Age.

This means the health of some of Johannesburg's residents and many communities living downstream and upwind of the ciTY's mine dumps could be under threat from potentially dangerous levels of uranium in some water supplies, windblown radioactive dust and radon gas.

Water supplies from the Upper Wonderfonteinspruit catchment area, stretching from Johannesburg to Potchefstroom, and including the West Rand Goldfield, are contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of uranium.

So said the National Nuclear Regulator in a 2007 report, Radiological Impacts of the Mining Activities to the Public in the Wonderfonteinspruit Catchment Area.

Uranium is chemically toxic and uranium in drinking water has been identified as an important source of risk to the public. People have been using the contaminated water in households, agriculture, recreation and fishing.

For more than a century, major gold mining activities, with the potential for pollution of surface and ground waters, have been carried out in the West Rand.

The gold ores contain appreciable concentrations of uranium and its radioactive progeny. Mining has resulted in the dispersal of radioactive material into the environment.

Sources of radioactivity in the West Rand include large active gold mines, old and abandoned mine workings and deposits of mining and milling residues, especially the so-called slimes dams in the area.

Elevated levels of radioactivity have been recorded over urban areas of the Johannesburg CBD according to a 2008 report, Draft Regional Mine Closure Strategy for the West Rand Goldfield, released by the Department of Mineral Resources.

The use of contaminated material and mine residues in construction has also been identified as a means of dispersal of radioactive material into the environment.

"Tailings dams (containing toxic mining residue) must be vegetated and seepage of water from tailings dams must be controlled to prevent the pollution of ground and surface water. Contaminated soil must be removed and replaced with uncontaminated soil," says Liefferink.

The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs would investigate and promised to respond in due course.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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...