22 February 2011 at 5:18 pm
MEDIA RELEASE: 22 FEBRUARY 2011
Today’s Cabinet briefing does not provide the public with enough information on government’s plans to address acid mine drainage (AMD) in the Witwatersrand to allow us to assess whether these plans adequately address the challenges posed by AMD. In particular, no clear timeframes have been provided, nor have particular agencies that will implement these measures been identified. We hope that this information will be contained in the team of experts’ report, or made public by government as a matter of urgency.
The Centre for Environmental Rights has been advised by government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi that the team of experts’ report will be published on the Department of Water Affairs’ website on Thursday, 24 February 2011, which coincides with the deadline for government to respond to an application for access to this report in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act submitted by the Centre for Environmental Rights on behalf of two non-government organisations. We will comment on this report as soon it has been published and we have had a chance to study its findings and recommendations.
Since the IMC’s press statement on 15 December 2010 summarising the recommendations of the team of experts (attached) (when the IMC already had the report), on a conservative calculation more than 2,5 billion litres of heavily polluted acid mine drainage have been discharged into our river systems, of which less than 900 million litres have been partially treated (by the addition of lime to raise the pH level). Every day that passes, a further approximately 40 million litres are discharged into streams and rivers, of which no more than 12,5 million litres are partially treated. For context, a domestic swimming pool contains between 50,000 and 60,000 litres of water – the discharge of AMD since 15 December 2010 would fill more than 41,000 swimming pools.
See more information on AMD here.