Thursday, January 17, 2008
By Joan Chirwa
Thursday January 17, 2008 [03:00]
THE Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) will continue to monitor operations of Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) at its refinery in Mufulira to avoid a re-occurrence of pollution, the council’s director Edward Zulu has said. But Mufulira residents have insisted that ECZ was failing to carry out its duties as an environmental regulator owing to the government’s control over it.
Meanwhile, Kankoyo area member of parliament Percy Chanda has threatened to start legal proceedings against MCM for “trivialising” the pollution that recently occurred in Mufulira.
In an interview, Zulu said the environmental experts from the ECZ were constantly monitoring operations of MCM’s refinery following the depletion of some pumps which were discharging acid into underground water that is being supplied to a number of residents by Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company.
“Operations were closed at the point where the pumps where leaking. The machine they (MCM) have is underground and when it started leaking, the acid polluted underground water where Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company pumps water and supplies to most of the residents in Mufulira,” Zulu explained. “ECZ is on site. We are working with Mopani to ensure that what happened a few weeks ago doesn’t re-occur.
I understand the company has already purchased pumps to replace the old ones that were leaking.”
But some Mufulira residents said ECZ had failed to adequately control environmental issues in the country.
Chitalu Musonda, a resident said it was very annoying to see how the matter of pollution was trivialised.
“My daughter was one of the victims that suffered severe vomiting and diarrhea because of taking water that was polluted with acid,” he said.
Chanda said he had written MCM more than three times seeking an audience with them over the resulting pollution.
“But I have failed to meet them. Now I am just thinking of speaking to my lawyers as one of the MPs in the area so that legal action can be taken on behalf of the people,” said Chanda in an interview.
“I come from a mining background. Before Mopani came, there was ZCCM operating that mine. From operations of ZCMM, Sulphur Dioxide was being emitted, but when Mopani took over, it changed operations.
Mopani changed the technology and brought in the Isa Smelter which is supposed to run in tandem with the acid plant. So the amount of discharge by ZCCM was not that much compared to what Mopani is discharging.”