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Sulphur dioxide fumes affect KCM employees, Nchanga Trust pupils

OVER 50 Konkola Copper Mines employees have been hospitalised after suffocation from Sulphur Dioxide.

And several pupils at Nchanga Trust School have been taken to Nchanga South Hospital after being affected by the abnormal Sulphur Dioxide discharge.

The Zambia Environmental Management Agency has confirmed the discharge of the sulphur dioxide.

According to sources at the mine, the situation which happened around 02:00 hours resulted in more than 50 employees suffocating.

“There was a situation at Konkola Copper Mines during the night shift where 42 employees were taken to Nchanga South Hospital around 02:00 hours related to suffocation from sulphur dioxide. The KCM employees and contractors are still in the hospital wards,” the source said.

Another source said Nchanga Trust School had also been affected.

“Bad sulphur dioxide discharge from the mines has badly affected pupils at Nchanga Trust School. The school management has started taking pupils to Nchanga South Hospital. Nchanga Trust is a Konkola Copper Mines-run school, so we are yet to know what will happen next and the report.”

The source revealed that the acid plant had since been shut down.

KCM corporate affairs manager Eugene Chungu was unavailable for comment by press time.

Meanwhile, I-Wave Radio Station Manager Lucy Kaonga and UPND advocate Alex Mwale have been arrested by Chingola police.

Mwale was on I-wave Radio talking about the discharge from KCM.

According to police sources, Mwale was arrested on allegations that he wanted to incite the residents.

“Yes, we have arrested the chap. He went on radio and started talking about this issue. This is a very sensitive matter now. He is in police custody together with the station manager of that ka radio,” said a police source.
Meanwhile, ZEMA corporate affairs manager Irene Lungu Chipili confirmed the incident.

“The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) would like to inform members of the general public that there was an incident recorded last night, 14th November, 2019 at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Nchanga Mine involving an abnormal discharge of Sulphur Dioxide from the Sulphur Burner component of the Acid Plant. This unfortunate incident resulted in a number of people living in the surrounding areas of the plant being affected by the emissions. Preliminary information made available by KCM indicates that some people have been hospitalised,” said Chipili.

“As an immediate action, the Acid Plant has been shut down to facilitate investigations into the circumstances regarding this discharge and ZEMA has since dispatched Inspectors to Chingola to carry out detailed investigations into this incident. Further regulatory action will be undertaken in line with provisions of the environmental management Act No. 12 of 2011 (“EMA).”

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