The stinking dam of Nyakallong in Allanridle, is polluted by toxic liquid waste from the Shaft 1 gold mine. This is made worse by the flows from the municipal’s sewage system.The community of Allanridge, especially, the River Side and Di’Nineng section, is forced to inhale fumes from this dam. From our continuous monitoring investigations since 2013, we have realised that the dam worsens every year since our first visit. The large scale media coverage and the residents’ complaints seem not to have shaken the mine and the municipality.The residents complain to the municipality about the mine but are not fully aware that the municipality is in part to blame.
How is the municipality involved?
The municipality has two pump stations from the town and the township which both excrete seweage at the sewage plant.“There is no electricity to boost the plant so the machine stands still regularly and gets discharged to the near slim dam” said one of workers at the plant who did not want to reveal his name.
Mme Seipati Mthombeni a local residnet gave a clearler idea of the cause of the problem. “We have inspected and found that the water cleaning process has stopped for a year now. Moreover, we came across 8 manholes that have blasted and have not been attended for years. We no longer complain about the manholes because the municipality does not respond to our requests from this side.
Effect on the health of the community
A resident Samuel Mabaso confirmed this “Since this seweage has been running on my back yard, my family and I have not stopped coughing. At the clinic they said I have contacted TB in the previous years but I continued coughing after the treatment”.
We went to the clinic to request the statistics of TB patients of the selected section but Bophelong clinic refused to give us the statistics. However, our conviction that this slime dam causes TB is supported by the nurses coming to this section to provide medication to TB patients. The number of TB patients are higher and and the visits are more frequent than the other sides of the township.
How toxic is the dam?
“In the period of our research, we have seen the soil surrounding the dam change colour with an addition of black, brown and orange besides the normal colour” said Mme Seipati Mthombeni of Kopano Environmental Club. In addition, the colour of the water is not only blue but reddish and greenish too.This is the combination of waste excreted both by the mine and the municipality’s blasted manhole.
Madipheko Khoza. told us
“During rainy seasons the smell of the dam gets back when it is hit by the sun. During dry and windy seasons the dust coming from the dam is whitish and salty. We are forced to inhale this since it gets trapped in our homes”.
Bear in mind that that there are two different wastes that are discharged into the dam: The one comes straight from the gold cleansing plant and contains harmful chemicals including anide, sulfuric acid, and solvents for separating minerals from ore, nitric acid, ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (“ANFO”) used in blasting tunnels, heavy metals such as mercury and uranium, soline, diesel fuel and acetylene.
The sewage waste contains ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulphide. These chemicals are toxic when inhaled.
People in the community suffer from eye irritation, nausea and breathing difficulties. We learnt in our internet search that prolonged, low-level exposure to these chemicals may cause fatigue, pneumonia, and loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory and dizziness.
It is clear how toxic the dam is and there has been no action to solve this problem. Instead the municipality worsens teh problem by pumping sewage.
We believe that both the municipality and mine should be held accountable for the illness they cause in the society.
By Zanele Stuntman, Zweli Ngxilana , Tokelo Khoboko