The Quarry And The Dust

South Africa. Residents of an informal settlement near Ocean View,claim that they are falling ill because of rock dust being generated in a huge quarry alongside their homes.

The enormous quarry has been systematically cleared of large rock deposits and is earmarked by the City of Cape Town for about 500 subsidised housing units.

Residents of Mountain View, a settlement of about 100 people which is situated right next to the quarry, say their health concerns have been ignored and claim that inhaling rock dust has made adults and children ill and caused chest problems.

When the Cape Times visited Mountain View, which is near Fish Hoek, on Monday, several residents said that even though mining and blasting at the site was almost finished, people were still coughing because of dust.

Walter Nichols, who said he had lived in Mountain View for 24 years, said the dust had been a problem for a long time. Nichols said that small children in the settlement “sometimes get sick” and said that dust from rocks in the quarry “causes chest problems”.

Prima Klipbrekers, the company responsible for mining the quarry, denies that it is endangering the community’s health.

The company’s Safety, Health and Environmental manager, Monty Coleman, said Prima Klipbrekers would not allow its employees to be exposed to toxic quartz dust.Coleman said Prima Klipbrekers had performed dust, noise and illumination tests in accordance with the Mine Health and Safety Act and had found that there was “no health risk”.

He said that annual medical tests carried out on Prima Klipbrekers employees based at the Mountain View site had revealed no problems with lung function.No members of the community had approached him or any other Prima Klipbrekers employees to complain about “toxic dust” during the company’s time in the area, Coleman said.

The city’s Executive Director for Health, Ivan Bromfield, said in a statement on Monday that it would “obtain an expert opinion on the potential health impact (of dust in the quarry)” once it had received “relevant details” from Prima Klipbrekers’ Safety plan and the results of all monitoring done at the site.

Source: Cape Times
By: Natasha Joseph
Date: 15 July 2008


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