Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has warned that transportation, storage, sale and use of hazardous substances should only be done under a license from EMA to ensure safety precautionary measures are taken to protect the public and prevent pollution of the environment.
Failure to do so will attract imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year; or both such fine and such imprisonment.
EMA also reminded all transporters of hazardous substances to stick to the proposed travelling timeframe of 4am-8pm and to use approved packaging, signage and containers during transportation.
The warning comes after an increase in the violation of the regulations which has resulted in loss of life.
Some common hazardous substances in Zimbabwe include flammable liquids (petrol, kerosene, turpentine, and flammable paints), corrosives (acids) and flammable gases (LP Gas).
EMA publicity manager, Mrs Amkela Sidange said some of the fatal incidents could have been avoided if regulations had been followed.
“Just recently, a speculated gas explosion in Harare resulted in the loss of the whole family, a tailings storage facility spillage at Jiang Xi Risheng Mine in Mashonaland West resulted in the contamination of Angwa River and loss of aquatic life such as fish, and spillage of nitric acid along Gwanda-Beitbridge road, just to mention a few.
“Hazardous substances management in Zimbabwe is regulated under the Environmental Management Act Cap 20:27 as read with Statutory Instrument 268 of 2018, to prevent pollution, protect the safety of the public and the environment.
“It remains in the best interest of the public therefore, to ensure that transportation, storage, sale and use of hazardous substances is done under a license from the agency as enshrined in the specified legislation above,” she said.
Mrs Sidange urged transporters to stick to proposed traveling timeframe and approved packaging.
“Most of the spillages of hazardous substances recorded during transportation have been linked to travelling outside regulated time frames and use of improper packaging and containers; and most of the offenders have been found to be illegally transporting these substances without a license from the agency during odd hours.
“Mining facilities handling hazardous substances should take necessary abatement measures to prevent contamination of the environment such as putting cut off trenches around tailings dams and lining of the same facilities using approved materials. Extreme caution should be taken in the storage of hazardous substances which should be under lock and key and with proper signage,” she said.
Mrs Sidange warned that incidents of people ingesting hazardous substances due to mistaken identity or getting harmed by the same, have been recorded especially at household level where often storage and sale is done illegally.
“On that note, the agency is calling upon the public to ensure they verify whether a facility transporting, storing, selling or using hazardous substances is licensed by EMA for their own safety and that of the environment.”