Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Environmental disaster flowing from the West Rand

The Afrikaans Beeld newspaper published a small article on their front-page today, somewhat unrevealing in the left-hand bottom corner of the page, that an Environmental disaster is happening on the W
est Rand. Afrikaans – “Omgewingsramp speel hom aan die Wes-Rand af”. The newspaper’s main article carried the story of the government’s plans to change the name “Pretoria” before the 2010 Soccer World Cup, --- but that’s another sorry story! For now, let’s stick to the environmental crisis on hand.

An article written by Earthlife Africa, and published online on the Chronicle Website, covers the same issue in English, -- so thankfully, I don’t have to translate the entire Afrikaans version.

Environmental disaster flowing from the West Rand
Written by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg
Wednesday, 20 January 2010 12:58

Untreated acid mine water is currently flowing uncontrollably out of an old mine ventilation shaft on the West Rand, near Randfontein. The water is polluted with toxic heavy metals, including uranium. At another exit point the toxic water is only 1cm away from overflowing (as of measurements taken by Rand Uranium on 14 January 2010). This acid mine water will further pollute the streams and rivers of both the Vaal and Limpopo river systems, threatening the health of all people reliant on these rivers and their tributaries.

The impact of acid mine drainage is far reaching and long-term. For example, research shows that acid mine drainage could not only affect our quality of water, but also poison food crops, destroy heritage sites, lead to a decline in agricultural production and related job losses. It could also lead to civil unrest related to conflict over resource use. Click here to read more.

Nobody listened and now it is too late!

According to Beeld, Ms Mariette Liefferink, director of the ‘Federation for a Sustainable Environment’, said that non-government organisations and civilians have, for the past five years now, been warning the government about this looming crisis. “No one listened and now it is too late.” She said that the catastrophe is immeasurable and that the environment has been ruined beyond repair.

Apparently, a government taskforce will be holding an emergency meeting --- on Friday!

Monday 26 July 2009 saw the last broadcast of the popular weekly TV programme 50/50. The show was going strong for 24 years, and was the longest ongoing environmental programme in the world.

This excellent TV show placed much emphasis on increasingly endangered water resources in South Africa and also touched on aspects related to corruption and incompetence in local government departments, --- particularly in the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs. I believe this may be the main reason why the show was suddenly taken off the air! Click here to view my posting regarding this issue.


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