The mining company Bosveld Phosphates is facing criminal charges in South Africa after highly acidic water spilled from a dam at Phalaborwa in Limpopo State, South Africa. following heavy rains on 31 December 2013. The pollution affected a 15 m stretch of the Selati River, which flows to the south of the town, and the Olifants River, into which the Selati River flows immediately to the southeast. Officials from the Kruger National Park, where Olifants River is a major water supply, report finding thousands of dead fish along the affected stretch of river, and are monitoring larger animals for health affects.
The approximate location of the Phalaborwa Phosphate Mine. Google Maps.
A spokesman for the firm has stated that the spillage was stopped within 24 hours, and presents no further threat to the environment. However the South African Department of Water and Environmental Affairs has brought criminal charges after tests on water behind the dam revealed that it fell considerably short of standards stipulated in the National Water Act. Scientists are carrying out ongoing testing on waters and sediments along the rivers, as there is concern that sulphates from the spill could inhibit the ability of animals drinking the water (or eating fish from it) to absorb nutrients, leading to long term health problems.
See also Fatality at South African gold mine, Illegal miner arrested in Free State, South Africa, Athabasca River polluted by mine runoff, One worker killed and three others injured at Marikana Platinum Mine, Rustenburg, South Africa and Protests over environmental problems at Indian-owned Mozambique coal mine.
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