Announcing the release of the : SWANSON MEMO ON WATER REPORTS ON THE QMM WATER RELEASE 2022
In February and March 2022 cyclonic rains caused mine tailings dam failures at the Rio Tinto QMM mine in Anosy region and the overflow of mine process water into the local lake/waterways. QMM had to start release of one million cubic metres of mine process wastewater from its mine basin and paddocks to avoid total collapse of the mine tailings dam.
Following these events, hundreds of dead fish were found floating in the local lake .
The Governor of Anosy instructed that all eating or catching of fish from the lake should be halted until tests could be carried out on water quality and reasons for the fish deaths determined. The state authorities then collected water and fish samples. These samples were sent for laboratory testing and two reports have been developed.
Meanwhile hundreds of villagers occupied the Town Hall of Ft Dauphin, capital of Anosy region, to declare their need for emergency food supplies and demand remediation for their lost livelihoods.
VILLAGERS OCCUPY TOWN HALL – SEE VIDEO HERE
The President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, visited Anosy days later and sent a strong message to the assembled crowds via the Minister of Water, declaring :
….” Currently, the natural waters (rivers and lakes) are all polluted, the fish found dead, you can no longer work. The QMM is responsible for all this because Only QMM extracts ilmenite here in Anosy, only QMM discharges wastewater into the river….We will have to find solutions for the protection of the community.”
QMM issued a rebuttal via a PRESS RELEASE this week denying any link between the QMM mine operation and the dead fish. They claim their own water testing, and the reports from the ANDEA studies, exonerate them.
The reports have been studied by radioactivity specialist Dr Stella Swanson who conducted an independent radioactivity review of QMM in 2019
SWANSON’S MEMO ON THE QMM WATER RELEASE REPORTS CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE
The 12 page critique highlights a lack of robust scientific analysis, the lack of sufficient sampling – and in the right locations, and the need for further testing to determine the cause of the fish deaths and the risk to human health.
The status of the water quality, the fish deaths, and the ongoing risks to the human populations living around the mine are still in question. No conclusions should be drawn at this stage and no claims made without much deeper investigation into causal effects. The Trust believes a national inquiry is needed, one that would also engage international, independent expertise to ensure a robust and transparent process of inquiry and resolution.
Plans that QMM have announced to spend 2million dollars on a treatment plant are also in question. It is unlikely this amount can provide more than additional pit systems requiring the use of neutralising agents on the aluminium exceedances ( above Malagasy regulatory limits) in QMM discharge waters. Such treatment can result in aluminium hydroxide deposits /sludge that can be easily transported into the environment by cyclonic weather conditions, causing even worse damage and mortality to aquatic life of the local water system.
No Environmental Impact or Risk Assessments have been produced for public consultation on this proposed new QMM water treatment plan – as would be required and is expected. Additionally, a treatment plant costing ten times the amount proposed would be needed in order to treat the waters efficiently and without risk.
Meanwhile local affected communities need food and sustenance to maintain their lives, the quality of which has, they claim, already been seriously degraded after ten years of the QMM mine’s presence .
See latest studies 2022 on community impacts from the QMM mine by PUBLISH WHAT YOU PAY MADAGASCAR : HERE