Decisive action ‘imperative’ for Cradle of Mankind

Johannesburg – Decisive action has become imperative as acidic mine water has reached the Cradle of Humankind from the West Rand, the United Association of South Africa said on Friday.

“If urgent measures aren’t taken immediately, it will result in reactive rather than proactive measures trying to limit the damage instead of preventing it,” said Uasa spokesperson Andre Venter.

He said in a statement that acidic water reached the Cradle of Humankind, as predicted by scientists and water specialists, from the West Rand via the Tweelopiespruit which springs from the radioactive Robinson lake outside Randfontein.

“We therefore urgently remind government, once again, that decisive action has become imperative.”

Venter said that while South Africans were witnessing the “catastrophe”, the government committees were debating the water crisis in boardrooms, and nothing was been done to prevent the decanting of acid water.

The increased rainfall over the last few months had considerably raised the level of the acidic mine water in the underground mined-out pockets of the Witwatersrand.

On the West Rand there were now reportedly about 40 million litres of sour mine water in the Tweelopiespruit each day.

“It is all very well that the inter-ministerial committee appointed by the department of water affairs to investigate, completed its work, but besides the announcement of a report of which the findings were never made public, we have heard nothing further.”

In July 2010 the department stated that potential decant within the Johannesburg area could take place within 18 months, or by early 2012. Those 18 months had now shrunk to 12 months, Venter said.

“AMD (acid mine drainage) has been described as one of the most significant environmental threats facing South Africa, already a water scarce country.”

With 98% of all South Africa’s available fresh water already being utilised, it was important that the remaining 2% was protected and conserved, Venter said.

“Uasa trusts that the department of water affairs will recognise the situation for what it is – a pending disaster – and act accordingly.”

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