Medical waste flowing straight into river - Unintended consequence of Eskom cash cut?

13 March 2018 - 12:08 By Timeslive
Human excretion‚ blood‚ toxic waste and other dangerous medical waste flow from the hospital directly into the Letaba River due to the pump station not being operational for over six months. The reason for the inactive pump station is allegedly the result of Eskom removing the breakers for the pump station. File photo.
Human excretion‚ blood‚ toxic waste and other dangerous medical waste flow from the hospital directly into the Letaba River due to the pump station not being operational for over six months. The reason for the inactive pump station is allegedly the result of Eskom removing the breakers for the pump station. File photo.
Image: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

When elephants fight‚ it is the grass that suffers‚ according to an African proverb.

In Limpopo‚ government entities failing to fulfil their functions appear to have created a potentially serious health risk for residents of Limpopo.

Medical waste from the Letaba Hospital is flowing directly into the Letaba River‚ according to Lindy Wilson‚ MP and Democratic Alliance shadow deputy minister of health‚ following an oversight visit to the Tzaneen hospital yesterday (Monday).

The South African Human Rights Commission will be asked to institute an urgent investigation‚ she said.

Wilson said she "found human excretion‚ blood‚ toxic waste and other dangerous medical waste spewing from the hospital directly into the Letaba River".

"This is due to the pump station‚ which is supposed to pump toxic waste to a purifying plant‚ not being operational for over six months.

"The reason for the inactive pump station is allegedly the result of Eskom removing the breakers for the pump station last year‚ rendering it useless. This is apparently due to the excessive debts owed to Eskom by the Mopani District Municipality.

"The hospital‚ which is supposed to provide health services to the community‚ is now putting thousands of lives in the area at risk and it would appear that little has been done to fix the situation."

Letaba Hospital near Groot Letaba River.
Letaba Hospital near Groot Letaba River.
Image: Google Maps

Wilson said the party had already filed a complaint with the Blue Scorpions (the Environmental Management Inspectorate)‚ under the Department of Environmental Affairs.

"Not only are lives put at risk‚ but the entire ecology of the river system is in jeopardy.

"The stench from the river due to the waste is unbearable.

"Surgical gloves‚ bandages and a countless other waste litters the river.

"Less than 200 meters down the river from the hospital‚ people were bathing and further down a water truck was found pumping water out of the river‚ possibly to sell to people in the area."

Wilson said those responsible for the "toxic waste" in the river should be held accountable for their actions.

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