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Acid mine water flows into wetland

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 February 2010

Source: Earthlife Africa Jhb

Acid mine water is pouring out of an old mine shaft on the West Rand, near Randfontein. The water is untreated and contains toxic heavy metals, including radioactive uranium. It flows down hill into a wetland area, to join the Tweelopiespruit which eventually flows into the Crocodile River. There is a strong smell of hydrogen sulphide – a toxic gas that can be very dangerous at high concentrations.

Acid mine water overflowing from an old mine shaft on the Black Reef Incline, near Rand Uranium's treatment pond, 30 January 2010.

Some ELA Jhb members visited the area on 30 January 2010. In response, a member wrote the article below about the environmental crisis on the West Rand.

Acid Mine Drainage – is this the end of life in Gauteng?

Judith Taylor, A member of Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce Water Commission and EarthLife Africa Johannesburg

“What does this mean?  Simply this – a deadly cocktail of chemicals has become part of the water leaking from mine shafts into our dolomitic (vulnerable rock formations that are very soft and easily degraded) areas.  This cocktail includes various sulphates, and metals such as lead, magnesium, cadmium, bismuth, and radioactive uranium, strontium (one of uranium’s progeny) and radium which decays into radon, radon gas, polonium, and thorium.

In the Witwatersrand, the dolomite is being eaten away by this water, which is in the “basins” or void, under the Witwatersrand Ridge.  Already, it is decanting or leaking into our ground water and many people have been seriously affected by this.  Some farms have been so badly affected that they are no longer operative.

Not only our water, but our food security is threatened, as the pollutants in the soil and water get into food crops.

Recent rains have led to the most recent overflow of acid mine water on the West Rand (mid-January 2010). Continue reading Acid mine water flows into wetland