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Zambian Community Follows Lead of Kenya and Takes On Mining Firm

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 town hosted one of the world’s biggest lead mines for many decades and scientists have reported “alarming” levels of lead in people’s blood. “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. Anglo had “a duty of care to protect existing and future generations of residents of Kabwe”, according to the legal documents. Lead has long been known to be highly poisonous and there is “no level of lead exposure that is known to be without harmful effects”, according to the World Health Organization. A scientific study of 1,190 people in Kabwe published in 2019 called exposure levels there “alarming”. It concluded: “This is the first study that has revealed the true extent of lead exposure in the whole Kabwe town, which poses a serious public hazard and should be given urgent attention.”