Villagers demand lead waste removal

2010-07-31 19:04

Dakar - Villagers in eastern Senegal have demanded the removal of lead waste in sand after killing 20 children in the capital Dakar in 2008, the village chief said on Friday.

"We want the state to take away this sand which was transferred and thrown in to a technical waste disposal plant that isn't even finished," Lamine Ciss, the chairperson of the Mont-Rolland village council, told AFP.

"This waste plant is accessible to herds that drink the water and eat the grass all around," Ciss said.

"Furthermore, Mont-Rolland is a water reservoir for Senegal and has wells for the National Water Company and a factory for mineral water. If the water table is contaminated, a large part of the country will be affected," he added.

Villagers recently demonstrated to demand the removal of the contaminated sand, which was dumped in Mont-Rolland, about 80km east of Dakar, at the end of June and early in July.

Environment Minister Djibo Ka has said he plans to move the sand elsewhere to have it treated at an Indian factory near Dakar, which specialises in recycling vehicle batteries.

"The Senegalese government isn't there to kill people," the minister told journalists this week.

"We hope he will keep his word," Ciss said. "Otherwise we will ourselves transfer the sand on to the public highway at Thies," the regional capital 70km from Dakar.

Ciss said that the contaminated sand could fill 55 lorries.

The sand dumped at the unfinished Mont-Rolland disposal plant came from the Thiaroye suburb of Dakar, where a score of children died of lead poisoning in 2008, while many adults were sick.

The pollution came from attempts to recover the lead while recycling motor batteries on the black market. The illicit depot was eventually sold to an Indian firm.