South African Toxic Mine Dumps Fail Citizens, Harvard Body Says – by Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – October 12, 2016)

South Africa is failing to uphold citizens’ human rights by allowing toxic waste from huge mine dumps in and around Johannesburg to seep into rivers, according to Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic.

The government hasn’t done enough to mitigate the impact of contaminated water from abandoned mines and dust storms from radioactive waste dumps, the IHRC said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.

While a long-term plan announced in May to spend 12 billion rand ($843 million) cleaning water from mines is a positive, it came more than a decade after polluted water began seeping out west of Johannesburg, the clinic said.

The effect on the environment is a human-rights issue, given that the country pledged to uphold such rights in 1994 when it held its first democratic elections, the IHRC said.

“The government has not only inadequately mitigated the harm from abandoned and active mines, but it has also offered scant warnings of the risks, performed few scientific studies about the health effects and rarely engaged with residents on mining matters,” the clinic said in the report.

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