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Fri Oct 31 09:37:31 SAST 2014

Horror as Transnet plans to dump asbestos near Northern Cape town

Sapa | 09 May, 2013 09:21
Anthophyllite asbestos

Plans by Transnet to dump asbestos into two borrow pits near De Aar, in the Northern Cape, are horrifying residents, it was reported.

Transnet had to remove asbestos from train yards to prevent possible health problems, Volksblad reported.

The plan was to dump 520,000 tons of asbestos, from nine yards, into two grooves and seal them.

According to the report, residents felt the asbestos could affect people, livestock, and wildlife such as rare bird species.

Transnet spokesman Mike Asefovitz told the newspaper it was following the legal requirements to the letter.

However, De Aar residents' association chairman Charel Marais said many questions remained unanswered.

"The area is some 300 metres from a municipal boundary. There are not houses there, but in future it could become a problem," he was quoted as saying.

Marais said there were strong winds in the area and that two wind power plants were planned for the town.

"They cannot guarantee us that asbestos fibre would not be blown into the air," he said.

Volksblad reported that residents were also not convinced that a membrane at the bottom of the grooves would hold forever and stop it from ending up in the underground dolomite formations, contaminating ground water and eventually drinking water.

Residents reportedly suggested that the asbestos be dumped elsewhere in the proving, in old asbestos mines which had to be rehabilitated anyway.

Asefovitz said all groups had been consulted in the process. Residents had two weeks to file their objections.

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