|2012 06 12 Water Affairs mulls action against polluting miners|
Water Affairs department determined to bring polluters to book after mine seepage contaminates town's water supply.
The Department of Water Affairs and the Inkomati Catchment Management Agency were considering criminal action against four mines in the Carolina area of Mpumalanga if they continued to pollute the water in the Boesmanspruit Dam and a nearby wetland, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said in a Parliamentary reply.
About 17000 people in the Mpumalanga town have been without safe drinking water since mid-January this year after mine seepage contaminated the town's water supply with heavy metals and Molewa has said it will cost more than R200m and take more than a year to properly fix the town's water-supply problem.
Molewa said the four mines - identified previously as Northern Coal's Mimosa Mine, a mine operated by Siphetha Coal, Union Colliery owned by BHP Billiton, and a colliery operated by Msobo Coal - had responded to a departmental request for water quality information, but the department was conducting further investigations to determine whether they would be held responsible for the cost of rehabilitation of water resources.
"There has been an improvement detected in the overall quality of drinking water in Carolina, however, there is periodic fluctuation in the water quality of some of the parameters that prevents the water to be declared safe at this stage," she said in her reply to a Parliamentary question from Democratic Alliance deputy water and environmental affairs spokeswoman Martie Wenger.
The fluctuations meant the water was discoloured and not suitable for drinking.
Legal Resources Centre attorney Naseema Fakir said the centre, and Lawyers for Human Rights, would assess the situation on Saturday, the day by which the department had undertaken to inform the two organisations on whether it was able to somehow supply potable water to Carolina.