Mutati reassures environmental safety after Uranium scare at mine

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ELEVATED uranium levels in drinking water at a Zambian mine caused a scare in November last year, but the Ministry of Technology and Science has assured the public that safety standards were met.

Minister of Technology and Science Felix Mutati says Government swiftly responded, mobilizing a technical team alongside the National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) to investigate the issue.

In a press briefing yesterday, Mutati pledged Government’s commitment to environmental safety and public health following the incident at Barrick Lumwana Mine.

“Our resolve is unwavering,” Mutati declared.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our quest to preserve the sanctity of our environment and protect the health of our people.”

Mutati shared that from December 5 to 8 last year, water samples were collected from various locations within the mine for radiological risk assessment.

And upon notification by the Radiation Protection Authority (RPA), Barrick Lumwana Mining Company promptly halted the use of the affected water treatment plant and provided alternative water sources to ensure the well-being of its employees.

Assurance came last month when laboratory results showed uranium activity concentration well below safety standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Meaning the amount of uranium measured in the drinking water was significantly lower than the strict safety guidelines set by the IAEA.

This low level of uranium minimises the risk of internal radiation exposure for the mine workers who consumed the water.

Mutati emphasised the Ministry’s ongoing efforts to safeguard public health and the environment through continued awareness campaigns and environmental monitoring at the mine.

He however disclosed that the awareness programmes were conducted, educating mine employees about uranium and radiation hazards, with the Zambia Environmental Management Agency offering invaluable support.

Mutati reiterated the ministry’s dedication to upholding stringent safety protocols and ensuring the welfare of all citizens.

By Catherine Pule

Kalemba, April 17, 2024

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