Lead Pollution In Zambia Town A Public Health 'emergency': HRW

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Lead pollution in Zambia town a public health 'emergency': HRW

Children living in a central Zambian mining town are still exposed to high levels of toxic lead 25 years after the mine closed, Human Rights Watch said Friday, as lawyers announced plans to take legal action

Lusaka, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 23rd Aug, 2019 ) :Children living in a central Zambian mining town are still exposed to high levels of toxic lead 25 years after the mine closed, Human Rights Watch said Friday, as lawyers announced plans to take legal action.

Decades of lead mining have left Kabwe, around 150 kilometres (95 miles) north of Lusaka, severely polluted, with serious health implications for residents.

The mine, which operated from the early 1900s until its closure in 1994, was at one time the world's largest lead mine. It was run by the Zambian government from the early 1970s when the mining industry was nationalised.

In a report published Friday, HRW said the town in the Copperbelt area still has extreme levels of contamination and children continue to be exposed to high levels of toxic lead in soil and dust around their homes, schools and play areas.

HRW's children's rights fellow and report author Joanna Naples-Mitchell described the situation in Kabwe as "a public health emergency" and said the government was "not responding with the sense of urgency that is warranted".

"The Zambian government is aware that Kabwe has been severely contaminated... since the 1990s and efforts to clean up have been inadequate," she told AFP.

A class action suit is being prepared to demand compensation for poisoning from Anglo American South Africa, a former investor in the mine, London-based law firm Leigh Day announced Friday. The law firm deals in human rights issues.

The case will be brought in courts in South Africa, where the mining firm is based, said the lawyers, who are acting on behalf of some 200 children who have been treated for lead poisoning.

Anglo American on Friday said in a statement it did not believe it was "in any way responsible for the current situation" in Kabwe.

"We were concerned to learn of the situation at Kabwe as reported by the press," it said, adding "the nationalisation more than 40 years ago effectively placed these issues under the control of the Zambian Government".

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