Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
VILLAGERS in Gulalembila area in Hwange District are living in fear of a health hazard after a Zambian registered haulage truck spilt 34 000 litres of sulphuric acid in the area on Monday afternoon.
Police said the truck, which was headed towards Zambia, overturned after the driver, a Somali national, lost control at the 35km peg between Cross Dete and Hwange along the Victoria Falls highway.
The Officer Commanding Hwange district, Chief Superintendent Newton Mutomba, said investigations are in progress.
“The driver lost control at a curve and the truck landed on its side. This resulted in the lid of the tank bursting and the contents spilling. The area was contaminated. Police attended the scene and there was concern about the spillage hence the Civil Protection Unit and Environmental Management Agency are mobilising resources to decontaminate the area,” he said. The truck was being driven by a Somali national and yesterday the wreckage was still at the accident scene.
Villagers expressed fear that the hazardous chemical would seep downstream into Inyantue River which feeds into Gwayi and then Zambezi River, which may affect them and their livestock.
On Monday, some villagers reportedly used containers to collect the liquid thinking it was oil.
EMA Matabeleland North manager Mrs Chipo Mpofu-Zuze said they were decontaminating the area.
She warned villagers against using water from a nearby borehole until tests are carried out to prove that the water was not contaminated. “Our officers are busy on the ground while an excavator has been dispatched as well to remove the contaminated soil so it can be treated. At the moment we have done awareness campaigns encouraging villagers to stay away and telling them about the dangers associated with the chemical,” Mrs Mpofu-Zuze said.
Sulphuric acid can cause adverse health effects.