"The findings of the recent Winde Report are significantly anomalous to the findings of public domain official reports and peer reviewed academic reports," says Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment.
Following a request by two major banks, the Mine Water Research Group of the North-West University, conducted a desk-top study to assess how far underground infrastructure in the CBD of Johannesburg may be affected by rising mine water levels in the Central Rand. This follows the approval by Cabinet to allocate R225 million to mitigate effects of acid mine drainage (AMD), which in turn was based on a report of a Team of Experts to the Inter-ministerial Committee on AMD.
While the study by Prof. Winde and his team focused on the flooding risks of basement structures in the CBD, it also addressed a range of related issues. These include, amongst others, the identification of sources of water filling the mine void (ingress), factors controlling the rate of rise of the mine water table, and the expected volume of water overflowing from the flooded void (decant). Based on the evaluation of pertinent scientific and technical reports as well as primary data provided by the mining industry, the study also addressed a range of other risks possibly associated with the filling of the Central Basin.
Just as the Tweelopiespruit took its dying breaths, Garfield Krige scooped up the contaminated stream's last surviving fish and took them home with him to his fish pond in the nearby Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site. "I don't think they're unique in any way," explains Krige, a hydrologist, of the hardy tilapia population that clung to life and now breeds happily in his pond.
"But they are the last survivors of the Tweelopiespruit. Maybe one day the government will clean up the river and we can put these fish back as their descendants." After about a decade of daily poisoning from the millions of litres of acid mine drainage (AMD) (the toxic and radioactive water seeping from the abandoned mines on the West Rand) there is no life in the Tweelopiespruit.
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment has given notice of appeal to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
More than two years since government started to care about acid mine drainage, it has been working with key stakeholders to address the ugly sludge of an issue. The response, however, has only scratched the surface while creating other problems, such as putting the river systems at enormous risk. Though the issue might be water and how long we can use it for, the solution is money and a plan.
A decade. That's how long Mariette Liefferink has known about the radioactive water under Johannesburg and its neighbouring mining towns - and how long she has been lobbying to have something done about it.
Acid mine water that is expected to flow into the Vaal River from next year must be fully treated by the end of 2014 to prevent water shortages - but the building of treatment plants is yet to start.
The Department of Water Affairs says it is committed to solving the country's acid mine water crisis. Farmers in Mpumalanga have issued a warning that polluted water could lead to food shortages. Now an upgraded treatment plant is to be opened in Gauteng but the government concedes more needs to be done.
The environmental risks and hazards associated with acid mine drainage (AMD) and radioactivity within South Africa' Witwatersrand goldfields are issues that need to be tackled more seriously, despite current initiatives by government, reports environmental protection group Federation for a Sustainable Environment CEO Mariette Liefferink.