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Malawian Government Says Uranium Mine Discharges Did Not Harm Water Quality

LILONGWE, Malawi

Tests of the Sere River and other water bodies around the Kayelekera Uranium Mine following a wastewater spill back in January 2015 found no contamination, Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Dr. Yanipa Mtupanyama said on March 28th.

Malawi’s Department of Environmental Affairs and Central Water Laboratory conducted an inspection and collected water samples for analysis on January 8th and 9th, shortly after a surge of water resulting from a high-intensity storm damaged a run-off tank at the mine in the Karonga region.

On January 8th, police were called in to quell protesters who wanted to storm the mine in the wake of the incident.

In a statement released to the media this weekend, Mtupanyama said uranium levels in the North Rukuru River were found to be 0.027milligrams/liter, which is within World Health Organization (WHO) standards for drinking water.

Analyss of the Sere River’s water showed traces of uranium, but this too was within accepted levels, he said.

The Kayelekera mine stopped producing uranium in May 2014.

The mine's owner, Paladin, had come under fire from civil society groups back in November 2014 for a decision to discharge water from the tailings dam at the Kayelekera mine into the North Rukuru, an important source of water for Karonga residents.

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