By JOHN SAKALA
About 53 Konkola Copper Mines employees and 232 pupils from Nchanga Trust Secondary School were hospitalized following Sulphur dioxide emission from KCM acid plant.
KCM Corporate Affairs General Manager Eugene Chungu has regretted the incidence which was caused by electrical surge.
Mr Chungu said the incident occurred at the Nchanga 500 tonnes per day (TPD) Sulphur Burning Plant where some gas emission affected the plant area and surrounding community resulting in some members of the community being hospitalized for precautionary observation.
He said around 18:30hrs yesterday, the 500 TPD Sulphur Burning Plant experienced an electrical power supply surge which tripped and disturbed the Plant.
“During the early hours of this morning, November 15, 2019, while in the process of stabilizing the plant some gases that escaped into the atmosphere and the surrounding areas including the New East Mill Crusher Plant, 53 employees experienced irritation and inhalation difficulties. They were taken to the hospital for mandatory observation before being pronounced medically fit and discharged.
“Related to this incident, this morning at around 07:30hrs the Company received a report that Nchanga Trust Secondary School was not conducive for the pupils to sit for Grade 12 examinations and Nchanga Trust Secondary School Management referred 232 pupils to the Hospital for observation. KCM working with various Government Departments in the District immediately formed a joint team to assess the suitability of the school to continue being an Examination Centre for the scheduled Grade 12 Examination. The team has since determined the school to be safe for normal occupation,” he said.
He said the Nchanga South Hospital Medical staff certified the 37 grade 12 pupils fit to write the examinations and all the pupils returned to school where they sat for the examinations.
Mr Chungu said KCM had launched investigations into the matter to prevent a recurrence of this regrettable incident.
He said the investigations were being done jointly with Mine Safety Department, Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and others.
“The 500 TPD Sulphur Burning Plant is not located within the Smelter facilities and the incident does not have any impact on the scheduled start up of the Smelter.
“KCM Management would like to extend sincere gratitude to the civic authorities, Nchanga Trust School Management, the parents as well as the members of the community for the support extended during this incident,” he said.
And the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) also confirmed the incidence.
ZEMA Corporate Affairs Manager said that there was an incidence recorded last night, November 14, 2019 at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Nchanga Mine involving an abnormal discharge of Sulphur Dioxide from the Sulphur Burner component of the Acid Plant.
Ms Chipili said discharged 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 hospitalized.
“As an immediate action, the Acid Plant has been shutdown 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),” she said.