Namibia Uranium: Foreign companies leaving radioactive waste in African countries is a problem that the continent has long battled. These hazardous radioactive wastes continue to pose a great risk to human health and the environment in Africa. However, recently it has been observed that some African countries are taking steps to stand up against it and secure their interests.
Locals hail Namibia’s stand
As per a recent report, court of Namibia is currently hearing an appeal by the local branch of Russia’s state-owned atomic energy agency, Rosatom, which is seeking water permits required for Uranium mining. The mining company owned by Rosatom was granted exploration rights in 2019, but in December 2022, Namibia refused to give it a water-use permit required for mining, citing the company’s failure to prove that its Uranium extraction method would not cause pollution.
Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform said stated that no further permit would be granted because the company’s proposed mining method, known as in-situ leaching, raised environmental concerns. Now, the mining company is asking the court to set aside the Ministry’s decision on the grounds that it is contrary to an article of the Namibian constitution that requires administrative bodies to act fairly and reasonably.
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The company also claimed that it was not given the opportunity to prove that its extraction method would not contaminate underground water. However, the Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein, insisted that the company must present scientific data showing no contamination of underground water will occur.
Schlettwein’s decision to deny Rosatom’s Namibian subsidiary a water permit has been praised by local farmers in the area who rely on the water for their livelihoods. The locals have made it clear that the community cannot seek development at the expense of pollution’s long-term impact.
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It is important to note that such incidents are not uncommon in Africa, leading to serious health hazards and environmental pollution in many countries. For instance, when a Uranium mine run by a French company shut down its operations in Niger, a town was left wallowing in 20 million tons of radioactive waste. Foreign companies often make money and secure interests at the cost of Africans. Therefore, Namibia’s decision to prioritize the interests of its people is commendable.
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