SA facing another toxic water danger

(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)
(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Johannesburg - The possible development of a coal mine near a pump station in the Vaal could threaten water supply to millions of people in northern South Africa, it was reported on Friday.

The proposed Panfontein colliery is set to feed Eskom's Lethabo power station, the Times reported.

But several organisations have banded together to stop the mine going ahead. One of these is Rand Water, which supplies water to most of Gauteng.  

It is feared that the mine could negatively affect the environment through the generation of acid water.

Acid mine water often contains toxic heavy metals and radioactive particles, or is acidic and can be extremely harmful to the health of humans, animals and plants, Sapa reported in March 2012.

Acid mine water first hit the headlines in about 2010 when experts warned that millions of litres of the toxic water was rising up under Johannesburg.

Another group opposing the Panfontein development is Vaal Water Action Coalition (VaalWac).

The group says in a post on its Facebook page that pollution of the Vaal “on a massive scale would be seemingly unavoidable, posing a threat not only to the drinking water of about one-third of South Africa’s population, but to agriculture and recreational uses such as fishing and water sports”.

VaalWac says plans for the mine include both open-cast and underground activity, some of which would take place within the 100-metre flood line.

“Further, blasting for the mining operation would be inevitable, with potential for damaging Rand Water’s canal and large pipeline which cross the proposed mine site,” the group said.
 
According to a final report released by an environmental assessment company, TTH Invasion, the first delivery of coal to Lethabo power station was scheduled for January next year.

But TTH told the Times it did not know when operations would begin as it was still registering the mine.

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