18 Feb 2015 08:00am
WINDHOEK, 18 FEB (NAMPA) The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) will soon dispatch inspectors to examine the impact of a recent fire at Rio Tintos Rössing Uranium Mine near Arandis.
Environmental Commissioner Teofilus Nghitila told Nampa on Tuesday that he has not yet been officially informed by the company about the incident, but only read and heard about it in the local media.
We also learned about the fire through the media. I do not have any official communication from the company to act. We will soon send inspectors there to ask them what actually happened, and what the mitigating action is that has been taken to avoid possible impacts on humans and the natural surroundings there, he stated.
At approximately 13h00 last week Thursday, a fire incident at the Final Product Recovery (FPR) plant of Rössing Uranium was reported to the mine's emergency response services. The emergency response teams managed to bring the situation under control, a media statement issued by the company on that same day said.
Affected employees were evacuated, and the fire was extinguished.
In an update statement on the fire on Friday, Rössing Uranium managing director Werner Duvenhage confirmed that there was no uranium spill.
There were also no injuries to employees.
He assured the public that the origin and cause of the fire and possible damage to equipment or the FPR building is currently being assessed.
The exact cause of the fire remains unknown at this stage. As part of our business recovery and response plan, further assessments and a thorough investigation, involving the relevant experts, is underway.
Work in unaffected parts of the mine continue as normal, Duvenhage added.
Meanwhile, Nghitila emphasised that once incidents of such a nature happen at a mine, a contingency plan needs to be in place so that the company knows exactly what needs to be done.
I believe Rössing will do the same if such an incident happens, and should make sure that it has a minimum impact on the people and the environment, he noted.