March 29, 2012Toxic WastelandProduced by Adel van NiekerkAbout 5 000 residents from the Tudor Shaft informal settlement at a mine dump on Gauteng’s West Rand remain exposed to highly dangerous levels of radio-activity. That’s according to an overwhelming body of academic research from South African and international institutions.This week on Special Assignment we focus on this community, the lack of clarity about who should take responsibility for ensuring their safety a year after the authorities have learnt about the apparent urgency of their situation. The National Nuclear Regulator took the unprecedented step in March last year already to order the Mogale City Municipality to relocate the residents as a matter of urgency. This demand came after a report by world uranium expert, Professor Chris Busby, came to light in which he revealed that the radiation levels in the area are fifteen times higher than regulatory stipulated levels.Plans were afoot to move the community to a safer area – but only about 200 of the more than 5 000 residents have been relocated. The rest remain behind in this highly toxic environment. Children can be seen playing in the soil yellowed by radioactive uranium and heavy toxic metals. Some residents even make use of this toxic soil as a type of face mask, believing it has healing powers for their skins. The high levels of toxic waste can lead to birth defects and brain disorders.Why then have the residents of the Tudor Shaft settlement not been moved to a safer area? How many more communities face the same danger? And who should be held responsible for cleaning up this environmental mess caused by 120-years of intensive gold mining?
Thursday on SABC 3 at 9pm