Major river cyanide poisoning crisis deepens

The cyanide spillage has affected plot holders that use Dande River for their horticulture and other farming chores ,including domestic consumption.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has temporarily suspended pumping water from Dande River in Mashonaland Central province due to cyanide poisoning from the Eureka Mine a week ago.

The cyanide spillage has affected plot holders that use Dande River for their horticulture and other farming chores ,including domestic consumption.

The affected plots include Chivavaya, Mutambama, and plots 8, 9 and 10.

Some affected villagers are under Muropa, Chigwada, Mukaera, Mubatapasango, Chikwidibe A and B, Nyabani, Chingwaru or Kachuta, Chemachinda, Mushongahande and Kadzimwenje among others.

According to the local District Civil Protection Unit,  Zinwa is now drilling five community boreholes, including one at Mazhambe village, after the pumping of water was suspended.

‘‘The tap water we had been getting was already in the tanks before the spillage,” reads the notice.

‘‘The treated water is coming from our nearby town.”

There is also provision of safe portable water using a bowser as another measure.

“Awareness meetings to inform the Guruve community were held on (Friday) at the Tarven,” the notice reads.

“Another meeting was held yesterday at Mazhambe village where the teams moved around with a hailer informing residents of the position.

“Efforts are being made to alert other water users.

“We urge everyone to notify the district development coordinator of suspected effects of water poisoning if any.”

The Environment Management Agency (EMA) said the poisonous chemical was released into Dander River on  spon  April 21 at around 0600hrs.

Though cyanide is used for gold extraction, it is poisonous to domestic animals like cattle through suffocation.

EMA confirmed that it carrying out an inspection at Eureka Gold Mine upon receiving a report by the mine.

‘‘The results from the laboratory tests will be shared with the residents once out,” EMA said.

EMA education and publicity manager, Ankella Sidange, said the move to investigate the incident was in line with the government’s environmental policy.

‘‘The inspection by the Agency focused on ascertaining the extent of the problem and proffer sustainable solutions to the obtaining problem,” Sidange said.

“The spillage emanated from the recycling pond at the tailings storage facility (TSF) and drained into the Dande River which is a raw water source for Guruve.

“On the other hand, the Agency also issued an Environmental Protection Order (Number 0022533) to Eureka Mine to put in place necessary pollution abatement measures for both in the interim and long term.”

Sidange said EMA was monitoring whether the mine was complying with the order.

‘‘The spillage was treated with ferrous sulphate and caustic soda to neutralise the cyanide concentration during the process of water flow,” she said.

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