Dodoma — INVESTIGATIONS done by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the Government Chief Chemist has revealed that water samples taken from Nyamongo mine areas have a high content of heavy metal.
Announcing the results on Wednesday before the Parliament, a minister in the Vice-President's Office (VPO), Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan (Union Matters) revealed that the investigations also found out that samples of blood taken from human beings and animals in the area have a high content of heavy metal.
The minister was presenting VPO, Union and Environment, 2012/13 budget estimates. "This situation might be caused by continued use of contaminated water. Various researches worldwide indicate that such content of metal in human beings can cause health hazards like those found in people living around North Mara gold mine," she explained.
The minister, however, announced that there was no scientific evidence that links any health hazards with discharges of contaminated water (mercury) from water treatment dams at North Mara Gold Mine.
"The discovered hazards are due to prolonged use of water with a high content of heavy metal in the area and such contaminated water is prevalent in natural rocks in the area," explained Ms Hassan.
In 2009, residents of the areas, activists, opposition parties, some researchers and some Members of Parliament claimed that wastes, effluents and water discharged from the mine into the River Tigithe had caused deaths and serious health hazards to some residents, cattle and wild animals and birds.
The claims prompted the government to conduct investigations and scientific research to establish the authenticity of the allegations. Due to the investigations, the minister said, the mine in collaboration with the Ministry of Water searched for alternative sources of water for residents of the areas while looking for permanent solutions." Already 16 wells have been drilled and plans are underway to draw water from River Mara," said Ms Hassan.
The Opposition spokesman for Environment (Iringa Urban - CHADEMA), Rev Peter Msigwa claimed that residents and animals around Nyamongo area have been seriously affected by mercury, cyanide, heavy material and other chemicals discharged from Geita and North Mara gold mines.He also wanted the government to announce as to when the victims of such pollution would be compensated.
Speaking on behalf of the Parliamentary Committee for Lands, Natural Resources and Environment, Ms Mary Mwanjelwa (Special Seats-CCM) advised the government to control uses of polyethylene materials.The committee has also commended the government for establishing Environment Fund.