A tank containing untreated radioactive material has exploded at Kayelekera uranium mine in northern border district of Karonga spilling into the local river system and leaking to Lake Malawi causing alarm amongst locals.
A coalition of Malawi civil society organisations has recently accused uranium Paladin Energy of secretly discharging contaminated sludge and mining tailings into Lake Malawi, according to a report compiled by members of the Natural Resources Justice Network.
But the Company rejected the claims saying they contained blatant falsehoods and misleading statements intended to cause alarm and distress to local communities in Malawi.
However, on Wednesday confirmed a surge of water from a heavy storm on Monday night had caused the liner in its plant run-off tank to rupture, releasing up to 500 cubic metres of material to the affected areas of the minesite.
The company did not mention of the toxic waste spilling into a local river.
“Up to 0.05 cubic metres (50 litres) may have overtopped one of the containment bunds due to the nature of the rainfall event at the time,” the company said.
Paladin said it had also formally advised relevant Government of Malawi authorities of the incident and referred to the damage as “minor” and said the site remained secure.
The miner said it will sample water from the local stream system near its Kayelekera mine to ensure a spillage had not resulted in contamination.
“A sampling program to analyse water from within the local stream system was also initiated to confirm no contamination occurred,” the company said.
The company had previously announced it planned a controlled release of surplus water into the local river system early this year, during the monsoonal wet season.
NRJN board chairperson Kossam Munthali has since asked government not to issue a permit, allowing the uranium miner to offload the waste, which includes waste uranium rock, acids and arsenic, among others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :