THE Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) has re-opened the Chambishi Copper Smelter (CCS) which was ordered to shut down for allegedly polluting the environment.
ZEMA Principal Information and Communication Officer Irene Lungu-Chipili said the agency had permitted CCS to reopen the plant under specified conditions.
Ms Chipili said the agency would continue to monitor CCS to ensure compliance of the Environmental Management Act (ZEMA) and other relevant legislation and ZEMA would remain committed to preventing and controlling pollution in order to safeguard human health and the environment.
She said in a statement that ZEMA issued the environmental restoration order to CCS pursuant to Section 105 of EMA No. 12 of 2011, on February 11, this year.
She said ZEMA’s inspections had revealed that CCS had put in place adequate rehabilitation and operational measures to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions to the satisfaction of the agency.
ZEMA would continue to improve operational modifications and install online monitoring for gaseous emissions.
The firm had put in place logistics for compensating affected farmers and was making consultations with Kalulushi Municipal Council and other Government departments.
Ms Chipili explained that ZEMA received complaints in January this year from several farmers in Chambishi area of Kalulushi district that a variety of their crops had been damaged by acid rain caused by sulphur dioxide fumes suspected to have come from CCS Limited.
A joint inspection was conducted with officials from Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Health and Kalulushi Municipal Council to verify the concerns raised by the affected farmers.
She said the said inspection revealed that there was a general visible injury to some crops and natural plants which could have been caused by acid rain induced by high levels of sulphur dioxide emissions into the atmosphere from CCS contrary to Section 105 (1) of the EMA Act No. 12 of 2011.
She said CCS was ordered to stop operations and put in place necessary measures to ensure that there was no further high level emissions of sulphur dioxide above statutory limits into the environment from the Smelter and sulphuric acid Plants.
The company was further ordered to install on-line monitoring equipment on all its stacks to continuously monitor and record emissions of oxides of sulphur and nitrogen in the control rooms by May 31 this year.
ZEMA further ordered CCS to adequately compensate all the people whose fields were affected by the emission of sulphur dioxide, after consulting all relevant stakeholders.
CCS was on ordered to shut down its plant in Chambishi on Monday for allegedly polluting the air and efforts to get management on the losses incurred proved futile as entry into the plant was not allowed and phones went unanswered.