Jagersfontein spill: new health hazards loom
Raw sewage is heading towards dams supplying small Free State towns
The Jagersfontein disaster is far from over. Urgent action is needed as raw sewage flowing downstream is approaching the Kalkfontein Dam, a water source for a number of towns.
One person was killed, scores injured and more than 250 people displaced when a tailings dam wall collapsed, causing a deluge of water and mud to sweep through the Free State mining town on Sunday.
The latest health warning was tweeted by environmental governance specialist Carin Bosman, who noted the spill had demolished the local sewerage works, meaning raw sewage was now flowing untreated into the stream, with dam tailings.
“It has already gone down the stream quite a bit and will soon reach the Kalkfontein Dam, which is a source of water supply for a number of towns in the area, including Jagersfontein and Fauresmith. Urgent action is needed ... as the raw sewage is creating a health risk for everyone and the lack of water supply will worsen it,” she said.
Alternative sanitation and berms were needed to prevent slimes and untreated sewage from reaching the dam before it rains.
A berm is a ridge or barrier designed to prevent, divert or direct water away from a particular area.
“If we don’t do this, Jagersfontein will become a bigger mess,” said Bosman, widely recognised as a water resources scientist and leading specialist in environmental, water resource and waste management and governance in SA.
She has almost 30 years' experience and is known for her exceptional knowledge of the technicalities of southern African environmental legislation.
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.