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Media Release: Civil society organisations appeal to Parliament to intervene in acid mine drainage

February 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm

9 February 2011

Earlier today, a large group of civil society organisations wrote to the Chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs, Advocate Johnny de Lange, requesting assistance in getting the report of the Team of Experts (ToE) appointed by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Acid Mine Drainage released to the public.

The group of NGOs submitted both a formal request for release of the ToE report to the IMC, as well as an application in terms of the Promotion of Access ot Information Act, 2000, on 25 January 2011. No substantive response has been received from the IMC, nor has the report been released.

In th letter, the group argues that it is essential for the findings and recommendations of the TOE report to be in the public domain to enable South African citizens to assess the scope and urgency of the problem and the feasibility and adequacy of recommended solutions. The failure to publish the TOE report increases public suspicion and anxiety and undermines public faith in the State’s ability and willingness to address this problem effectively. The IMC’s failure to release the TOE report conflicts with the principles of transparency, access to information and democracy entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. The IMC has excluded participation by those who are most affected by its decisions.

Millions of litres of heavily polluted acid mine drainage continue to be decanted into streams connected to both the Vaal and Crocodile River systems and groundwater systems on a daily basis, with devastating consequences for communities and the environment. Further decants may be imminent. Despite this, no tangible measures have been implemented by government or the mining industry to deal with the ongoing discharge, and to implement longer-term measures to address the problem. At the very least, civil society is entitled to know what the TOE found and recommended to the IMC.

A copy of the letter can be downloaded here.

Signed:

Anti Privatisation Forum

Biowatch South Africa

Centre for Environmental Rights

Coalition Against Nuclear Energy (CANE)

Earthlife Africa Cape Town

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg

EcoMonitor

ECOPEACE Party

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Environmental Monitoring Group

Federation for a Sustainable Environment

Foundation for Human Rights

Gauteng Wetlands in Crisis Committee

Gauteng Wetlands Forum

Greenpeace Africa

groundWork

Institute for Zero Waste in Africa (IZWA)

International Association for Impact Assessment (South Africa) (IAIA)

Johannesburg Advocacy Group

Johannesburg Anglican Environmental Initiative

Jukskei Area Catchment Management Forum

Masizakhe Youth Development Club

National Association of Conservancies and Stewardships South Africa

National Taxpayers Union (NBU)

National Wetlands Professional Practitioners Forum

Noordhoek Environment Action Group

Pelindaba Working Group

Public Environmental Arbiters

Renewable Energy Centre

Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy

SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association

Save the Vaal (SAVE)

Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI)

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance

Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Initiative (SAFCEI)

Sustainability Action Movement

TAU – SA

The Greenhouse Project

The National Water Forum

United Association of South Africa

Umphilo waManzi

Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA)

Zwartkops Conservancy

Contacts:

Centre for Environmental Rights – Dina Townsend dtownsend@cer.org.za 083 444 8607

Federation for a Sustainable Environment – Mariette Liefferink mariettel@iburst.co.za 073 231 4893

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg – Judith Taylor judith@softwareafrica.co.za 082 389 3481

Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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