Mines Deputy Minister Maxwell Mwale told parlaiment that the Government did not have any information of any resident whose health had been affected as a result of lead and could therefore not compensate any individual.
He however said that the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) had put in place stringent measures to ensure that pollution at Kabwe Lead Plant was minimised.
Mr Mwale said ZCCM-IH had sunk boreholes, improved domestic water supply in communities affected by lead, provided cover wastes so as to prevent evaporation and embarked on the distribution of food supplements to reduce lead levels in children.
Mr Mwale was responding to a question raised by Kantanshi MP Yamfwa Mukanga (PF) who wanted to know the measures taken to minimise pollution and whether there were plans to compensate residents whose health had been affected by pollution.
Kabwe once boasted one of the largest and richest lead mines in Africa, but it had few pollution controls. Since the closure of the mine in 1994,the town has endured not only economic hardship but also the risk of lead poisoning.
Kabwe’s vegetation, soil and waterways are heavily contaminated with the highly poisonous metal. High levels of lead poisoning effect the entire population, but are particularly high in the children of the area. Children in Kabwe have been found to have as much as 10 times the EPA’s allowable limit of lead in their blood. Lead poisoning symptoms occur in any one whose lead level is above 20, at 120 death can occur.
Children in the area who play in the mud and run off, and young adults who scavenge in the mines for left over bits of metal to sell, have been found with levels over 200.