To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
03 Feb 2008 10:38
South Africa is on the brink of a water-contamination crisis, potentially as bad as the electricity fiasco of the past few weeks, the Business Times reported on Sunday.
In an alarming report, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has confirmed evidence of contaminated crops and water, and has acted to protect people and livestock, the newspaper said.
The report is the latest of several recent indicators that the government is no longer able to monitor effectively and manage its vast infrastructure of dams, pipes, pumps and treatment facilities.
Among the alarming findings contained in a series of reports are the following:
According to the NNR report, contaminated sites are now restricted zones. The report concludes: “The study has confirmed the presence of radioactive contamination in the Wonderfonteinspruit catchment area.
Regulatory actions were taken to ensure that people and animals were protected.”
The regulator did not reply to the Business Times‘s questions before deadline on Friday.
Beeld newspaper reported on Saturday that, according to the NNR report, radioactive levels three times higher than permitted have been found in vegetables grown in wetlands in the Wonderfonteinspruit area between Randfontein and Potchefstroom.
The newspaper said tests on asparagus, oats and onions produced in the Gerhard Minne wetlands showed that the level of radioactive substances was three times higher than the safe permissible level for human consumption.
Other vegetables grown in the area, such as cabbage, beetroot and spinach, will now also be tested for traces of lead, cadmium, arsenic, zinc and cobalt.
Higher-than-permitted radioactive substances in food get into humans’ bloodstream. It can lead to fatal kidney failure and various forms of cancer.—Sapa
Create Account | Lost Your Password?