The leakage of toxins from Angola’s diamond mines killed at least 12 people and poisoned 4,500 others in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, said the country’s minister of the environment, Eve Bazaiba. She added that her country would be demanding compensation.
Toxic chemicals leaked from an Angola diamond mine in late July. The pollutants found their way into the Lova River, a tributary of the Tshikapa (Kasai) River, which crosses the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and flows into the Congo River. Under the influence of the toxins, the water turned red, and the spill killed the animals in the water – including fish and hippos.
Polluted river. Poisoned people, “tons of dead fish”
Eve Bazaiba, Environment Minister for the Democratic Republic of Congo, said a spill of pollution from Angola’s diamond mines killed at least 12 people and poisoned 4,500 others.
Bazaiba reported that “tons of dead fish were swimming in the river” and that people “at first reflex” picked up the fish. Officials in Kasai province have banned drinking river water and eating fish, but still, according to the minister, about a million people have been affected by water pollution. People from the riverside towns suffered from diarrhea and other digestive health problems, among others.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo will demand compensation
Minister Bazaiba said her country would seek compensation. However, she did not provide a specific amount or further details. It concluded that the proposal complies with the “polluter pays” principle.
The owner of the mine is Catoca, which in turn is jointly owned by the Angolan state-owned diamond company Endiama and the Russian Alrosa. According to Reuters, the company has not publicly commented on the position of the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Earlier, however, it stated in a press release that it had built two dykes to filter sediment from the water and that the leak had been sealed, Reuters reported. The agency also notes that the mine is responsible for around 75 percent of Angola’s diamond production.
The leakage of toxins in the rivers has hit the inhabitants of Kasai Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Main photo source: LUCHA, Reuters