Nuclear News

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 07:10

FSE reports on AMD

On 19 May, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment submitted a report to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Water and the Environment, on invitation.  The subject, the current status of AMD.

Published in COMMENT
Sunday, 14 November 2010 07:29

The battle over uranium: Just how bad is it?

One of the most abundant heavy metals in the earth's crust, uranium is a known radiological element and toxin. It is also a major by-product of gold mining, historically one of South Africa's greatest economic undertakings. The country additionally began mining specifically for uranium in 1949, primarily for export to the United States and other nuclear-intensive countries throughout the Cold War.

As the conflict between East and West subsided, uranium mining waned, with the gold output from the Witwatersrand reef also declining. Today, hundreds of thousands of tons of uranium by-product sit in mine dumps scattered across the country, with 100 000 tons of the heavy metal in Gauteng's Western Basin and Far Western Basin alone, according to Frank Winde of the North-West University at Potchefstroom.

Published in NUCLEAR

Concerns that Johannesburg and the Cradle of Humankind will soon be flooded with acid mine drainage (AMD) have been central to discussions on polluted mine water for months, with the public being worked up into a frenzy about the CBD sinking and South Africa's heritage being wiped out.

While a media storm has been created around these predictions, fuelled by worried activists and a reactionary government, estimations of both sites flooding are not as concrete as one might think. Some scientists and government officials note that Johannesburg will with no uncertainty be the next target, advocating action, while others claim the city faces a very minimal threat. Similar opinions surround potential affects on the Cradle.

Published in WATER

Environmental activist Mariette Liefferink's four-inch crimson heels still sport their Woolworths sticker as they puncture the sulphuric crust lining Robinson Lake, situated in the Western Basin of the Witwatersrand.

The water is quiet, smells slightly of vinegar and laps gently against a shore devoid of any life save for a few, lone reeds. Behind the lake is a large, naked yellow mountain of mine waste adorned with a few small green nets meant to stop the dust from blowing in an incessant wind.

Published in WATER

Abstract

With more information on environmental research reports at the disposal of the general public, a new type of activism has been visible in South Africa since 2007. This new type of activism entailed, amongst others, a more informed activist empowered with more freedom of speech and a right to information (according to the rights provided as in the South African Constitution). The formal founding of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) for South Africa in October 2007 serves as an example of proactive oppositional environmental activism (POEA).

Published in RESEARCH
Sunday, 21 March 2010 06:20

DWA Responds to DA's questions on AMD

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION NO 386

DATE OF PUBLICATION IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: 26 FEBRUARY 2010

(INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO. 4)
386. Mr G R Morgan (DA) to ask the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs:
(1)(a) What are the current locations where acid mine water is decanting in Gauteng, (b) into which water courses are they decanting, (c) what is the size of the decant each day, (d) how many (i) people and (ii) farming operations are (aa) directly and (bb) indirectly affected by the decanting at each of these locations and (e) how was these figures arrived at;
(2)whether efforts are being made to warn people about the dangers of using water from water courses into which acid mine water has decanted; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(3)whether steps are being taken to (a) reduce and (b) treat the decant at each of these sites; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Published in COMMENT
Sunday, 11 January 2009 11:26

Comment on Draft plans for Mine Closure

Mariette Liefferink CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment has issued a comment on the Draft Regional Closure Strategy Of Mines On The West Rand And Far West Rand.

Published in COMMENT
Thursday, 13 November 2008 09:43

Mine Water Pollution

1987: "..problems related to mining waste may be rated as second only to global warming...mining waste can result in profound, generally irreversible destruction of ecosystems"

~ expert assessment from Environmental Protection Agency, 1987

2003: "...the groundwater in the mining district of Johannesburg, South Africa, is heavily contaminated and acidified....The polluted groundwater is discharging into streams in the area and contributes up to 20 % of the stream flow, causing an increase the acidity of the stream water. The effect of the
contaminated water from the mines can persist for more than 10 km beyond the source"

~ Naiker study, 2003 "Acid mine drainage from gold mining activities in Johannesburg, South Africa and environs"

Published in RESEARCH

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.

Published in WATER
Sunday, 27 November 2011 07:36

Acid sludge poses a serious risk to Gauteng

Soweto, Johannesburg - Thousands of people face evacuation from greater Johannesburg in the Gauteng province - the economic heartland of South Africa - due to toxic sludge from abandoned gold mines laced with high radiation levels.

Published in NUCLEAR
Page 2 of 3

MINING

FSE IN SA MINING

The FSE contributed to the article titled “Caught between a rock and hard place” by Nellie Moodley on page 33 of the magazine. An advertisement of the FSE’s activities appears on page 14 of the magazine.

Pelicam Award for Jozi Gold

The Pelicam Film Festival in Rumania has awarded Jozi Gold a Special Mention.  ...

SA NEWS

"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.

Mining activists in SA face death threats, intimidation and harassment - report

SATURDAY STAR | 19 APRIL 2019, 7:41PM | SHEREE BEGA Picture:Yvette Descham On August 13 2013, Billy M heard gunshots at the gate of his house. He didn't know who fired the gun, and, worried that local traditional leadership might be involved, he didn't report the incident to the police. For the next five years, the community activist from Fuleni, a small rural village in KwaZulu-Natal bordering one of SA's oldest and largest wilderness areas, the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, continued to receive threats.  "We know our lives are in danger. This is part of the struggle," he says, simply. Billy M's account is contained in a new report released this week, 'We know Our  Lives Are in Danger’: Environment of Fear in South Africa’s Mining-Affected Communities, which documents how community activists in mining areas face harassment, intimidation and violence. The report details how in Billy M's case, mining company Ibutho Coal had applied for rights to develop a coal mine in Fuleni in 2013. The development would have required the relocation of hundreds of people from their homes and farmland and destroy graveyards. "The mine's environmental impact assessment estimated that more than 6000 people living in the Fuleni area would be impacted. Blasting vibration, dust, and floodlights, too, could harm the community," says the report."During the environmental consultation processes, Billy M led opposition that culminated in a protest by community members in April 2016."The company reportedly abandoned the project in 2016 while another firm, Imvukuzane Resources is reportedly interested in mining in the area.The 74-page report, compiled by Human Rights Watch, the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), groundWork, and Earthjustice, describes a system designed to "deter and penalise" mining opponents.The authors conducted interviews with more than 100 activists, community leaders, environmental groups, lawyers representing activists, police and municipal officials, describing the targeting of community rights defenders in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northwest, and Eastern Cape between 2013 and 2018. They report intimidation, violence, damage to property, the use of excessive force during peaceful protests, and arbitrary arrest for their activities in highlighting the negative impacts of mining projects on their communities. "The attacks and harassment have created an atmosphere of fear for community members who mobilise to raise concerns about damage to their livelihoods from the serious environmental and health risks of mining and coal-fired power plants," write the authors."Women often play a leading role in voicing these concerns, making them potential targets for harassment and attacks."But municipalities often impose barriers to protest on organisers that have no legal basis while government officials have failed to adequately investigate allegations of abuse."Some mining companies resort to frivolous lawsuits and social media campaigns to further curb opposition to their projects.  The government has a Constitutional obligation to protect activists," write the authors. Picture: Shayne Robinson, Section 27 Authorities should address the environmental and health concerns related to mining "instead of harassing the activists voicing these concerns,” remarks Matome Kapa, attorney at the CER.The report starts with the high-profile murder of activist Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, who was killed at his home after receiving anonymous death threats in 2016. Rhadebe was the chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), a community-based organisation formed in 2007 to oppose mining activity in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape.  "Members of his community had been raising concerns that the titanium mine that Australian company Mineral Commodities Ltd proposed to develop on South Africa’s Wild Coast would displace the community and destroy their environment, traditions, and livelihoods. More than three years later, the police have not identified any suspects in his killing."Nonhle Mbuthuma, another Xolobeni community leader and spokesperson of the ACC, has also faced harassment and death threats from unidentified individuals. "I know I am on the hit list.… If I am dying for the truth, then I am dying for a good cause. I am not turning back," she says.But other mining areas have had experiences similar to that of Xolobeni. "While Bazooka’s murder and the threats against Nonhle have received domestic and international attention, many attacks on activists have gone unreported or unnoticed both within and outside the  country."This is, in part, because of "fear of retaliation for speaking out, and because police sometimes do not investigate the attacks", the authors found.The origin of these attacks or threats are often unknown. "So are the perpetrators, but activists believe they may have been facilitated by police, government officials, private security providers, or others apparently acting on behalf of mining companies. "Threats and intimidation by other community members against activists often stem from a belief that activists are preventing or undermining an economically-beneficial mining project. In some cases, government officials or representatives of companies deliberately drive and exploit  these community divisions, seeking to isolate and stigmatize those opposing the mine."The Minerals Council South Africa, which represents 77 mining companies, including some in the research areas, responded that it “is not aware of any threats or attacks against community rights defenders where (its) members operate”.The authors state that while the mining sector and the government emphasise how mining is essential for economic development, "they fail to acknowledge that mining comes at a high environmental and social cost, and often takes place without adequate consultation with,or consent of, local communities".The absence of effective government oversight means that mining activities have harmed the rights of communities across South Africa in various ways. "Such activities have depleted water supplies, polluted the air, soil, and water, and destroyed arable land and ecosystems."Researchers also documented cases of police misconduct, arbitrary arrest, and excessive use of force during protests in mining-affected communities, "which is part of a larger pattern in South Africa".Last year, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits University documented various efforts by traditional authorities to stifle opposition to mines in their communities. "In some cases, traditional authorities label those opposing mines as anti-development and troublemakers, thus alienating and stigmatising them.As a result, community members are often afraid to speak out against a mine in open consultations," CALS found.Research by the SA Human Rights Commission, too, has found that community members sometimes “are afraid to openly oppose the mine for fear of intimidation or unfavourable treatment (by the Traditional Authority)."The SAHRC says many mining-affected communities are experiencing “the creation of tension and division within communities as a result of mining operations.Sometimes, threats and intimidation against activists come from community members who have been promised economic benefit from the proposed project or are politically allied with the government or traditional authority."Local communities often do not benefit from mining activities, says the report. "Although South African law requires the development of social and labour plans (SLPs) that establish binding commitments by mining companies to benefit communities and mine workers, CALS has documented significant flaws in the development and implementation of SLPs."Despite the environmental and social costs of mining, the government is not adequately enforcing relevant environmental standards and mining regulations throughout South Africa. The SAHRC has found that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) often fails to hold mining companies accountable, "imposing few or no consequences for unlawful activities and therefore shifting the costs of pollution to local communities."Compliance with regulatory obligations, as well as monitoring and enforcement of such responsibilities, remains a crucial concern in the context of mining activities," says the SAHRC, noting how the DMR and other governmental agencies often do not respond to complaints filed against mines by community members.The report's authors describe how the lack of government action and oversight has also helped make the mining industry one of the least transparent industries in South Africa. Information that communities require to understand the impacts of mines and to hold mining companies accountable for harmful activities is often not publicly available. "Such information includes environmental authorisations, environmental management programs, waste management licences, atmospheric emission licences, mining rights, mining work programmes, social and labour plans, or compliance and enforcement information."The only way to access such information is through a request under South Africa’s access to information law, a procedure that the World Health Organisation has called 'seriously flawed' and which the DMR regularly flouts. In addition, mining companies and the government rarely consult meaningfully with communities during the mining approval process, resulting in uninformed and poor government and industry decisions that do not reflect community perspectives or have their support," says the report.The authors assert how the threats, attacks, and other forms of intimidation against community rights defenders and environmental groups have created an environment of fear "that prevents mining opponents from exercising their rights to freedom of opinion, expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and undermines their ability to defend themselves from the threats of mining".In its November 2018 review of South Africa’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concern about “reports of human rights defenders, particularly those working to promote and defend the rights under the Covenant in the mining and environmental sectors, being threatened and harassed". It recommended that South Africa provide a safe and favourable environment for the work of human rights defenders to promote and protect economic, social, and cultural rights, including by "ensuring that all reported cases of intimidation, harassment, and violence against human rights defenders are promptly and thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators are brought to justice". Mining activist Mariette Liefferink, who made submissions to the UN committee, tells how it has become increasingly difficult to work as an environmental rights defender in South Africa.   "There is an overwhelming body of evidence of intimidation, whether it is by means of frontal attacks or more insidious attacks on activists."International and South African law requires South Africa to guarantee the rights of all people to life, security, freedoms of opinion, expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and the rights to health and a healthy environment, say the authors."The attacks, threats, and obstacles to peaceful protest described in this report prevent many community activists in South Africa from exercising these rights to oppose or raise concerns about mines, in violation of South Africa’s obligations." 

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...