South Africa radioactive water-contamination crisis

Posted on February 4, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In an alarming report, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has confirmed evidence of contaminated crops and water, and has acted to protect people and livestock, the newspaper said.

The report is the latest of several recent indicators that the government is no longer able to monitor effectively and manage its vast infrastructure of dams, pipes, pumps and treatment facilities.

Among the alarming findings contained in a series of reports are the following:
  • forty-three percent of dams managed by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry have safety problems and require urgent repair;
  • an estimated R180-billion is necessary to replace old water-service infrastructure countrywide, including in the major metro areas;
  • waste water from mining operations appears to have seeped into the country’s groundwater system — a process known as acid mine drainage — raising concerns about future water supply;
  • vegetables and fish collected in the Wonderfonteinspruit catchment area west of Johannesburg have been contaminated with radioactive uranium — and the NNR is testing milk and meat from cows grazing in the area; and
  • water in the Wonderfonteinspruit area has also been contaminated by radioactive material, as well as by heavy metals and salts.
Despite the NNR’s latest report — a follow-up to an earlier, detailed report of contamination in the area — cattle farming continues and environmental activists are concerned that radioactive meat may be entering the food cycle.
Read more here

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