Community, Paladin tussle continues
Karonga Business Coalition on Mines has obtained an injunction restraining Paladin Africa Limited from discharging uranium treated water into rivers.
This comes after government gave Paladin a license to enable the company discharge uranium treated waters into rivers. But the development received some resistance from the Karonga community more especially Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) including Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN).
An injunction obtained from Mzuzu High Court restrains Paladin Africa from discharging uranium tailing waters into Sere River or any other river around Kayerekera Uranium Mine until determination of the order of the court.
The coalition secretary Wavisanga Silungwe said in an interview on Friday that the organisation will not let Paladin to destroy the environment.
“Whether government said the water is treated or not we will not listen to that. Paladin did not follow the legal framework of uranium purification. The company promised us that it will construct additional tailing dams but they failed to walk the talk. We will not let Paladin to discharge uranium waters into rivers when we know already that it is hazardous to human health,” said Silungwe.
Silungwe also said government must not even bother to intervene in the matter because they have been backing Paladin on several occasions.
He said it is very unfortunate that government is allowing Paladin to discharge uranium water into rivers when the effects of that will be heavily felt by the communities even after the company is gone.
Secretary for Natural Resources, Energy and Mining expressed ignorance on the matter.
“We do not know what these people are thinking and what they want honestly. The water that is being released is treated and it is not hazardous to human health and this is the right time for Paladin to dispose the water because if they delay discharging the waters in the dams, it will become full and the water will start overflowing which will be very bad,” Said Botolo.
He said said he is shocked with the injunction that has been obtained because he expected people in Karonga to understand the whole process better because they have been sensitised.
He said government will look into the matter with Paladin officials to vacate the injunction.
Om his part, Paladin Africa Managing Director Greg Walk in an interview on Sunday said the company will strongly contest the application on procedural grounds and on the merits of the applicant’s argument.
Walker said the treatment and release process is being monitored regularly by officers of the Water Resources and Environmental Affairs Departments.
“Paladin regards Mr Silungwe’s action as mischievous, as the Company is acting lawfully in compliance with a decision of the competent authority, namely, the consent of the Minister,” Walker said.
He said the components of the existing uranium processing plant had been converted into a water treatment plant.
“The discharged water meets the WHO (World Health Organisation) drinking water guideline for uranium of less than 30 micrograms per litre, average monthly concentration, so there is no question of there being any risk,” he said.
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