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South Africa in race against toxic mine water threat focus 10/29/2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

South Africa in race against toxic mine water threat

focus

10/29/2010
WESTONARIA — For years Neels Van Wyk suspected something was wrong with the water on his farm, worries that grew as mining and government officials started frequenting the area to test nearby rivers.

Van Wyk, 48, lives in Westonaria on the southwestern outskirts of Johannesburg, surrounded by four major mines which over the last 120 years extracted gold and uranium.

Most of the mines closed down 11 years ago, when pumping of underground water reserves also stopped.
Now researchers worry that toxic mine water is rising toward the surface and seeping into nearby water supplies, contaminating rivers with a cocktail of acidic and sometimes radioactive waste.

“My concern is that I use borehole water which could be contaminated. I sell peaches and vegetables to the hawkers and they sell it to the community. What if the vegetables are contaminated and we don’t know that,” Van Wyk said.

Activists fear rising water levels in the mines have created an underground time bomb that could threaten the country’s nearby financial capital Johannesburg in 16 months.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com6.html

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