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Water pollution affected most parts of Chingola in northern Zambia
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Friday, 05 Nov 2010
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The water pollution that affected most parts of Chingola in northern Zambia after Konkola Copper Mine allowed some effluent to seep into Kafue River has been rectified and water supply restored normally.

Ms Jacquiline Kabeta KCM head of corporate affairs said investigations into the preg tank that happened at a the weekend at the Nchanga Integrated Business Unit of KCM have confirmed that it was an isolated spill that escaped into the Kague River resulting in the pollution of the water, used by more than 20,000 in Chingola and other surrounding areas.

Ms Kabeta said that an investigation team comprising the Environmental Council of Zambia, the Mines Safety Department, officials from Mulongwa Water Supply Company and KCM safety and environment specialists toured the Tailings Leach Plant where the leak took place. She said that the pollution control Dam and the Mulonga Pump House, Chingola District Commissioner Tobby Maliti joined the team on the visit to the PCD and TLP. KCM has been on zero discharge since the spill that led to Mulonga taking precautionary measures of shutting down its pumps to halt supply to consumers in the town. The investigation team found all analyses on water quality had normalized.

Earlier reports indicate that the water utility, NKANA Water and Sewerage Company had temporarily suspended water supply to its customers following reports of raw water contamination in the Kafue River in Chingola.

Ms Diana Makwaba MD of NKANA stated that preliminary investigations had shown that the pH was normal. Following reports of raw water pollution in the Kafue River in Chingola, we carried out preliminary investigations to establish the downstream impact of the said pollution on the raw water in Kitwe and the preliminary investigations have shown that the pH is normal.

She said that as a precautionary measure water supply to customers has been temporarily suspended while detailed investigations are being carried out and water supply will be restored as soon as the company is satisfied that water supply to customers is safe. The utility provides water to among other neighboring towns, Kitwe, Kalulushi and Chambishi townships.

Konkola Copper Mines was last reported to have polluted water in the Kafue River in 2006 with the latest pollution being confirmed by the Environmental Council of Zambia. In anearlier statement Ms Kabeta stated there was a leak in one of the age old Preg tanks, at the Tailings Leach Plant at Nchanga in Chingola at the weekend, some of which seeped into the Kafue River.

She said that immediate steps were taken to correct the situation by taking the suspect leach solution tank off-line and applying lime to neutralize the acid and spillage. The ECZ was also notified and the Council sent a team of experts to investigate the incident. Since the incident, KCM, the water supply company Mulonga and the ECZ have been working tirelessly to ensure that the situation is brought to normal as soon as possible and water supply restored to the affected communities of Chingola.

KCM pledged to invest in modernizing its operations to increase recoveries efficiency and to ensure that its operations do not do any harm to the environment by employing the latest technology in new plant machinery.

Local media reports cited some analysts arguing that KCM had much latitude to operate hence the incidences of pollution. Nchanga PF parliamentarian Mr Wylbur Simuusa is reported by local media that the level of freedom which the government had given KCM to pollute the environment and throw sulphuric acid into the Kafue River was unacceptable.

Mr Simuusa accused the mining company of negligence, saying people started feeling the effects of the water pollution last month. Some people have been hospitalized for having stomach problems and this is not the first time KCM is doing this, and yet it is not difficult to control the pollution but KCM is doing things with impunity because they don’t fear any law or people since government has given them leeway to do what they want due to some funding which the mining company gives this government. And it is not only KCM even Mopani is doing it in Mufulira.

(Filed by Mr Kapembwa Sinkamba SteelGuru Correspondent Zambia)

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