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Spill of polluted mine wastewater into rivers affects rural communities, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, poses risk to iSimangaliso Wetland

Picture: The iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage site/YouTube

Picture: The iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage site/YouTube

Published Jan 16, 2022

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DURBAN – Environmental management inspectors have been deployed by Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) Minister Barbara Creecy to support the investigation into the spill of polluted mine wastewater into river systems flowing through important conservation areas.

Creecy said: “On request from the province’s MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs’s Ravi Pillay’s call for technical support, we have decided to deploy a team of inspectors from DFFE to KwaZulu-Natal.

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“The team will support the ongoing efforts to address the impacts of the spill that is affecting rural communities and the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Reserve, as well as posing a risk to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.”

DFFE said they had been advised that more than 1.5 million litres of tailing materials flowed from a burst slurry dam at the Zululand Anthracite Colliery into nearby rivers, and surrounding land on December 24, 2021.

The department said the KZN economic development, tourism and environmental affairs MEC had informed Creecy about the matter and requested officials from DFFE to join the joint operations committee, which was established to deal with this situation.

The committee was set up to investigate the incident and oversee the steps being taken to mitigate the impact of the spill.

DFFE officials were in the affected areas on Friday to view the extent of the damage as well as evaluate the measures which have been implemented to mitigate the risks.

The officials will also form part of the joint inspections by the committee scheduled to take place in the week of January 17, 2022.

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DFFE said the team would provide on-the-ground support and assistance to the joint operations committee, which is made up of government role players, including the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the departments of Water and Sanitation, DFFE and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The department said it was not in a position to provide any additional information on Friday.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the DA’s eThekwini caucus leader Nicole Graham took to Facebook to share photos of the Litterboom project team cleaning up the Ohlange River, north of Durban.

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Graham said the eThekwini Municipality should have been cleaning up and she would follow-up the matter.

She added that the Litterboom team urgently needed support to continue its work.

“I just made a small donation to them and urge you to please do the same, if you can. Alternatively, you can also look for them on social media and share their work to raise awareness.”

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