Malawi NGOs warn Paladin of radiation pollution: Karonga residents fear for their health

Karonga residents in conjunction with the civil society organizations have given Paladin Africa Ltd seven days ultimatum to reverse its decision to empty its tailings dam liquid wastes at Kayelekera uranium mine into Sere River which flows to Lake Malawi.

Paladin Africa boss Greg Walker:  Given ultimutum

Paladin Africa boss Greg Walker: Given ultimutum

Failing to adhere, the groups and Karonga residents have threatened to take legal action against the Australian uranium mining company which may include court injunction.

The development comes against a recent District executive meeting organized by the mining company where its  Operations Manager Greg Walker announced that government has authorized Paladin to remove the said water which geologists claim has high levels of radiation into the Sere river which is the main source of drinking water for most people in Karonga.

“The deal has already been signed between the company and government but we shall purify the water first before releasing it into the Sere River,” Walker is reported to have said during the meeting.

However, the development has angered the Karonga community which has engaged the country’s Natural Resource Justice Network Rink (NRJN),  a grouping of 33 Civil Society Organizations dealing with mining and human rights issues to help it fighting the battle against Paladin’s decision.

In a statement released on 19th November 2014 signed by 12 people including Paramount Chief Kyungu, Traditional Authority Kalonga, NRJN Chairperson Cosam Munthali, Blessings Botha of Action Aid Malawi, Karonga District Council Chairperson Patrick Kishombe and Wavisanga Silungwe, the stakeholders are demanding Paladin to immediately halt its decision and conform to the initial plan to build another tailings dam.

The stakeholder fearsthat there shall be  “increase radiation exposure doses which will primarily affect people in Karonga and Malawi in general since the river drains in Lake Malawi.”

According to the statement the tailings dam is in form of sludge which contains heavy metals of uranium and other contaminants such as arsenic, as well as chemical reagents used during the milling process.

“The tailing waters are in form of mud having waste uranium rocks, acids and other chemicals used in processing the yellow cake which is the uranium and it takes thousand years to become harmless as such people who depend on the river for survival will be affected by such chemicals.”

The statement also highlights that “Paladin is taking advantage of the weak laws and the relatively low capacity of the law enforcement system in Malawi<

The petitioners have asked  Paladin to build a second tailings dam as was the initial plan and consequently refrain from malicious practice of discharging radioactive effluents into the river systems, which would put the lives of innocent Malawians to a series of health effects such as lung cancer in the short, medium and long term.

Commenting on the matter Paladin Africa Limited Operations Manager Greg Walker told Nyasa Times on Wednesday: “We have received the copy today but we are still reviewing it we will make a comment later.”

The Australian-registered uranium miner irked Malawians when they disregarded laws governing mining in Malawi to which they duly signed to respect,  by suspending mining operations at Kayelekela without notice.

According to the Mines and Mineral Act Section 46, Paladin or any other mining licence holder, cannot suspend mining without a six-month prior notice to the Commissioner of Mines.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), one of the organisations calling for justice from Kayelekela mining, called on government to punish Paladin for their actions.

And Malawians still demand a renegotiation of the mining contract with Paladin.

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16 thoughts on “Malawi NGOs warn Paladin of radiation pollution: Karonga residents fear for their health”

  1. mona says:

    Bingu wa mumunthalika benefited so much from the kayelekera mine more than poor people of malawi it is also high time tinakapanga investigate kuti anadya zingati bingu kuti zibwezedwe ku boma. a malawi sitikonda dziko lathu and you wonder we have ministry of mines, ministry of science onsewa ali phwii kumangopita kunja kumaphunziro ameneso sagwiritsidwa ntchito malawians lets be proactive please. Tigugona tulo kwambiri and that is why ma china, a mwenye ,mabulundi ndi ma nigerians akumagula malo kuno ku malawi ndikumamanga midzi yawo boma lili apo kupanga mkonono its high time we jack up

  2. wiz says:

    why chase them before cleaning their acts?they need to clean up the mess before letting them go. so sad why did even malawi accept to have this deadly project? malawi does not even have scientist to understand the challenges of this. why uranium after all?who has benefited after ?CRY FOR MY BELOVED MOTHERLAND.

  3. these people the planed to build tailings dam B stueted near maingate all processes were done all survey coodinates are there but unfortunate the tain it to waste dump,so if they were diging holes 100m deep, 0.5m apart then full these holes with cement to avoid water infiltration to contaminate rives,why allowing them to drain all the water tm the river with only nutrising it? not enough because at the bigining of process all the uranium went into same tailings dam

  4. MALAWIAN JULIUS MALEMA says:

    LET THEM DO AS PER ORIGINAL CONTRACT.BUILD ANOTHER DAM

  5. KARONGA TO YOU EVERYTHING YES, YES SIR, NOW IT IS PAINING YOU.

    KARONGA MORE TO COME, THINK OF FUEL IN LAKE MALAWI PLUS WARS, ASK THOSE WITH SMALL LAKES IN AFRICA, INDIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD, THEY ARE NO LONGER HAVING FRESH WATERS AND NO COMMERCIAL FISHING AND MORE WARS ARE THERE.

    TAKE CARE KARONGA

  6. mathews says:

    these Paladin guys are criminals they want to wipe all people in Malawi with deadly diseases,Malawians wakeup before its too late, prevation better than cure! Tikagumule basi ngati boma likuziikira kumbuyo Zigawengazi

  7. che mkope says:

    malawianslet us rise up. Paladin must be chased out and go. Radiation isvery dangerous and if we are not careful the entire nation will perish. Anthu amenewa atisiira mavuto atseke mgodi azipita afterall the country haznt benefited anything apart from corrupt politicians and govt official. Inu aboma zoona mukulola paladin to dump radioactive waste into rivers? Are you serious with protecting your citizenry? I am not sure if the govt has scientists who are able to know that radionuclidescannot in any way be removed fro contaminated water. Its high time paladin must pack and go asanationongere anthu. You govt officials you are fools and corrupt. If this happens i urge karonga people to strike and put their factory ablaze. Atikwana!!

  8. tumpale malema says:

    this is a stupid deadly government,there after just to swiddle the tax,which did not benefited the malawians,worse thing the resident in karonga.I edge you to stand against the plant

  9. Monkey says:

    If They Are Not Doing What We Want As Malawians Then Let Them(MINERS) Pack & GO!

  10. Hazrat Pillane says:

    What took you so long you idiots? You mean you didnt know all along all the money you were corruptly receiving was to brainwash you? Now you have started talking because theres nothing coming forward to your pockets? Mwabila pachande msana wawoneka sono. Why should Karonga people pretend to look at healthy hazards after so many of KUM operations? Musovene.

  11. Kalanga says:

    True

  12. star 81 says:

    These mining companies are wolves in sheep’s clothing. It is a shame that these greedy capitalists come in the name of bringing development in the country yet they do not have the country’s interest at heart. Woe to them.

  13. Vavlov says:

    For once Malawians unit against this evil. You can’t allow these assholes poison the Malawi’s water systems. Who is benefiting from this mine? Bingu did and now northers watch out the tribalistic government of DPP will not act against these fools simply because of greed . The mine should be closed its not benefiting people in Karonga or northern Malawi; you are being poisoned, rebel against these unscrupulous business deals.

  14. mlomwe original says:

    radioactive waste is tooooo dangerous to human health.Kodi a boma mumangovomereza zirizonse.Malawians lets wake up and even chase these paladin guys out.They want to kill us all,and yet we are not benefiting anythng from these crooks.Karonga residents,go go i am behind you.Let them do the clean up of the entire area and force them park and go.
    ndikuti anthuwa atisiya nchipsinjo cha cancer.
    radio active waste is deadly!!!!!!!!

  15. Quota system says:

    These issues start at a high tempo but later die away. Look at the previous concern to relocate the refugee transit point. Nothing is happening and every body is quiet. We wait and see what will happen on this impunity and arrogance of this government on matters of public concern.

  16. Mack Banda says:

    Dumping of the radioactive waste into Lake Malawi is not only a Karonga District health hazard, IT IS a NATIONAL problem!! The country must rise against these uncaring crooks called Paladin.

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