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21 Oct 2020

Damian Carrington, The Guardian

Lawsuit filed in South Africa against Anglo American for alleged mass lead poisoning of children in Zambia

'Anglo American sued over alleged mass lead poisoning of children in Zambia', 21 October 2020

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the mining company Anglo American over its alleged failure to prevent widespread toxic lead pollution in the Zambian town of Kabwe...“The public environmental health disaster left behind by Anglo means there are more than 100,000 children and women of childbearing age in Kabwe who are likely to have suffered lead poisoning as a result of pollution caused by Anglo,” according to the filed legal documents.

The lawyers argue that Anglo American’s South African subsidiary is liable as it was responsible for the mine from 1925 to 1974 and that this was when the majority of the pollution was caused... “Childhood lead poisoning has devastating effects on neurological development and causes overt clinical signs including convulsions and coma,” said the scientists. They found average blood lead levels were above that classed as high by US authorities in all but one of 13 districts in the town. In the most affected district, the average level was nine times above the US threshold...

The case is being brought by 13 representative plaintiffs. Some are children with very high blood lead levels and others are women, as lead pollution poses great risks to foetuses during pregnancy.

...“Anglo American reports that a case has been filed in South Africa in relation to alleged lead poisoning in Zambia,” said a company spokesperson. “No such claim has yet been served on Anglo American. Once the claim is received, the company will review the claims made by the firm and will take all necessary steps to vigorously defend its position.” Leigh Day said the company had been served.