‘I drank the water and ate the fish. We all did. The acid has damaged me permanently’ | Global development | The Guardian
Mining giant Vedanta’s subsidiary company KCM drilled the borehole in 2010 for the village after the Mushishima stream was turned into a river of acid when mining chemicals spilled into it. But a leaked company letter says that chemists who tested borehole water there in 2011 found it tainted with copper residues, acid and minerals, and said it was unfit for consumption. Now the villagers must use the stream too.
1,800 people from Shimulala, Hippo Pool, Hellen and Kakosa villages took their complaints to the high court in London in a case that could last years and make giant mining companies working in developing countries address local pollution more seriously.
The villagers say acid spills and contaminated water in their streams, rivers and boreholes are getting worse. “The frequency and severity of spills is higher and more consistent. Before we could not smell [the pollution] but now we can. The ground is contaminated, our crop yield has dropped, the maize crop is about half what it was,” said Leo Moulenga of Shimulala. “When there is a spill, the air is very acidic. Last week they spilled a lot. It was awful. In the future we don’t think people will be able to live here. It is becoming uninhabitable. The pollution has been incremental. Now it’s getting worse.”