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Call for permanent moratorium on uranium exploration and mining in Stampriet aquifer

Call for permanent moratorium on uranium exploration and mining in Stampriet aquifer

By Mareike Voigts, Echart Foertsch and Vera Corry.
Namibian Organic Association.

The Namibian Organic Association is a member-based association to further organic agriculture across all sectors and for all Namibians. Our association consists of farmers, consumers, and traders of organic goods.

We are deeply concerned about the aggressive push to mine uranium from the Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer System, a source of the finest quality drinking water for tens of thousands of Namibians, and citizens of Botswana and South Africa.

This aquifer further provides essential drinking water for hundreds of thousands of animals across large tracts of land and irrigates crops that feed Namibians well beyond the southeastern parts of the country where the aquifer is located.

We are aware of the efforts of Headsprings Investments, a subsidiary of the Russian company Rosatom, and others to turn promising exploration results into uranium mines employing the so-called in-situ leaching process, where sulphuric acid dissolves uranium and other heavy metals from the ore body located within the Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer System.

While the uranium is removed other heavy metals stay suspended for extended periods, thus contaminating the water body for years to come. Dissolved heavy metals in water cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. Yet toxic heavy metals are known to cause detriment to health, including cancer and even death.

In November 2002, the Namibian Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights adopted General Comment No. 15 on water rights. Article 1.1 states that, “The human right water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights”.

Comment No. 15 also defined the right water as the right of everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic uses. The human right to safe drinking water was also recognised by the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council as part of binding international law in 2010. (UN, 2010)

We feel that any risk of contaminating drinking water is irresponsible and not acceptable. Thus we call on the Namibian government and its institutions for a permanent moratorium on all activities that consider or promote the mining of uranium within the greater area served by the Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer System.

We further call on all Namibian citizens to join the growing movement to stop exploration and mining for uranium within the Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer System by signing the petition and form of Stampriet Aquifer Uranium Mining Association (SAUMA) as posted on their website

Our actions today will be judged by the generations of tomorrow. On behalf of all members and supporters of the Namibian Organic Association.


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