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Coal miners closely monitoring the environment after slurry spills

The winding Unforodi River.

  • Three weeks after the wastewater spill, the Zululand Anthracite Colliery complies with government directives to monitor the area for adverse effects.
  • The impact of spills on human health and the environment, if any, has not yet been determined.
  • The company and the government have begun separate investigations into the cause of the spill.

Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) states that it complies with directives from regulatory agencies to monitor the potential adverse effects of recent pollution spills.

On Christmas Eve, after four days of heavy rain, the end wall of a newly installed slurry dam broke down and 1500 cubic meters of coal slurry spilled into nearby lands and rivers.

ZAC is located in the heart of the Zululand region, on the right side of the mine, adjacent to the Unforodi River and the Furulwe Unforodi Game Park. The effects of the spill have not yet been seen. ZAC’s slurry dam contains various elements such as mercury, arsenic, copper, lead and manganese.

ZAC’s environmental supervisor, Msawenkosi Butelezi, said the directives received would provide specific actions to be taken, including some biomonitoring actions that “provide a de facto basis for the effects of spills on the environment.” ..

ZAC, owned by mining investment company Menar, has been operating in the region for 38 years and said it has an established community forum for interacting with the surrounding community. According to ZAC, within two hours of the spill, traditional authorities were notified and explained to community leaders six times since the incident. The company said it believes community leaders are “generally satisfied” with how they handle the problem.

The mine employs 1,100 people in the area. The company also said that the workforce for cleanup was also sourced from the host community.

“We are aware and continue to engage with the host community and regulatory agencies,” says Butelezi. “We remain transparent about the incident, ongoing investigations, corrective actions being taken at ZAC’s initiative and expense, and regulatory instructions.”

The end walls of the slurry pond have been rebuilt and are awaiting professional engineer certification before the pond can be used again. The integrity of the containment walls of other slurry ponds will also be checked by professional engineers and improvements will be made as needed, the company said.

ZAC said it would continue to monitor groundwater and appointed an environmental consultant to monitor surface and groundwater.

Following instructions from the KwaZulu-Natal Bureau of Economic Development and Tourism Environment, ZAC has instructed to extend sampling to include the estuary of iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

To assess potential damage to the surrounding host community, ZAC works with relevant local community forums and organizations to identify such damage and discuss solutions.

The company has also appointed an engineering company to determine the exact root cause of the dam wall failure. This investigation is currently underway.

Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Environment has set up a joint steering committee to investigate this issue.

Coal miners closely monitoring the environment after slurry spills

Source link Coal miners closely monitoring the environment after slurry spills

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