The Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has moved in to assure the nation that a spillage incident at Kayerekera Uranium Mine on January 5 2015 caused no harm to water bodies.
Some employees of the mine were carrying out maintenance of the sediment retention tank which contained non-radioactive materials comprising sand, lime and water, among other things.
But heavy rains on the day affected the tank by causing the inside rubber liner and metal to separate and release the contests in a semi-solid form which spilled into a drift between the runoff water pond and the tailings storage facility.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary, Dr. Yanira Ntupanyama, said in a statement following the incident, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Central Water Laboratory conducted inspections on 8 and 9 January, 2015, where water samples of surrounding water bodies, including the Sere River, were collected and analysed on-site to monitor for any possible contamination. All parameters were within the acceptable levels.
According to Ntupanyama, World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and guidelines for drinking water stipulate that uranium levels in drinking water should not exceed 0.30mg/l and the analysis indicated that the water in Sere River had traces of uranium but within acceptable levels.
“For example, in North Rukuru River, which is downstream of the mine, uranium levels were 0.027mg/l which is within the WHO standards for drinking water,” reads part of the statement.
It further indicates that Paladin Africa, which owns the mine, is working with the government to ensure they safeguard human life and the environment by accepting recommendations to ensure the incident does not recur.
Among the recommendations, Paladin will carry out maintenance of the affected tank and ensure that spillage does not occur again; submit a detailed report about the incident and members of the public should be duly engaged and allowed to see for themselves what really happened and the measures taken.