Malawi: Columnist questions Malawi's readiness to mitigate negative environmental & public health impacts of coal mining

Author: Peter Mmangisa Chonga, Nyasa Times (Malawi), Published on: 16 January 2017

“Should Malawi be celebrating a coal plant?”

I recently read this feature article headline ” Malawi in Coal Fired Power Plant MOU with China Group: To Boost Economy”…[We] are talking about burning coal right? Have we considered all the long-term effects of burning coal on the people living in the area earmarked for the plant? What about the surrounding environment? Have we considered the air, rivers and ground water? Where would villagers collect portable water from, if these sources get contaminated? Is this really worth it?...

Coal has negative impacts on public health. Clean air.org demystifies it this way. “Burning coal is a major source of fine particulate, acid rain, air toxics and greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. Links have been made between exposure to pollution from coal-burning power plants and serious health impacts such as heart disease, respiratory diseases and different types of cancers. Not only has that, burning coal also contaminated drinking water with mercury and other metals”.

Does Malawi have a plan for how it’s going to dispose of hazardous coal combustion waste? If yes, can this administration articulate what it is to array our fears? The simple reasoning behind this argument is, if hazardous coal combustion waste is disposed of in unlined pits, dangerous chemicals like arsenic can leach into drinking water supplies causing catastrophic public health problems.

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