Expert warns of radioactive related diseases around Kayerekela: Paladin’s uranium mine in Malawi

Bruno Chareyron, a French nuclear physicist, has warned that people working and living around the Kayerekela Uranium Mine in Karonga are at high risk of contracting radioactive related diseases within the shortest period.

Bruno  explaining the situation at Kyerekera - things are not well.-Photo by Tiwonge Kumwenda, Nyasa Times

Bruno explaining the situation at Kyerekera – things are not well.-Photo by Tiwonge Kumwenda, Nyasa Times

Chief Kalonga - we will join to fight the battle during the meeting.-Photo by Tiwonge Kumwenda, Nyasa Times

Chief Kalonga – we will join to fight the battle during the meeting.-Photo by Tiwonge Kumwenda, Nyasa Times

Chareyron said Wednesday at the Karonga district chamber that the radiation emissions at the mine, owned by Australia’s Paladin Africa Limited (PAL), were abnormal.

He was in the country to collect water samples around the Kayerekela mine river system which local CSOs allege is contaminated following a spillage late last year.

“The normal radiation emission around the mine is supposed to 100 counts per second but surprisingly many places have 4 000 radiation gas counts per second which is very dangerous,” said Chareyron.

He added: “Workers at the mine, and the communities around are inheriting more radioactive gas every second and this could cause radioactive related diseases such as cancer.”

Chareyron, who was in the country to collect water samples around the mine over alleged contamination, reported that he was shocked that PAL cast a blind eye on the welfare of its staff.

“I saw a guard sitting in his guard room at the mine’s gate where emission was over 2 000 radiation gas count per second but when I asked one of Paladin’s officials he simply said the company had forgotten to construct a protected guardroom,” explained Chareyron.

He added that was a great mistake because almost all the gas was entering his body.

“The company does not have the welfare of its workers at heart,” he asserted.

The world acclaimed physicist asked the Malawi government to take keen interest as far as monitoring the goings-on at the mine were concerned.

“Government must take issues of mining seriously and protect the workers and the people around the mine because the current system the Paladin is using is a threat to the residents of the country,” advised Chareyron.

He explained: “Every mining company is supposed to monitor radioactive gases in the surrounding water courses, fish and workers’ urine but this is not happening at Kayerekela.”

Natural Resources Justice Network Link (NRJNL), a coalition of 33 non-governmental organizations, said they would liaise with government to make sure that the workers at Kayerekela are protected.

“We will make sure that we collectively correct things at the mine,” said NRJNL chairperson Kossam Munthali.

Senior Chief Kalonga urged non-governmental organizations in the country to support NRJNL in their pursuits.

“Government has betrayed us. Our only hope is in you CSOs. Please make sure that our lives and those of the workers at Kayerekela are protected,” he said.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Please share this Article if you like Email This Post Email This Post

More From Nyasatimes

More From the World

35 thoughts on “Expert warns of radioactive related diseases around Kayerekela: Paladin’s uranium mine in Malawi”

  1. Bomanile says:

    PAL have taken advantage of our lack of experts like Mr Chereyron to ‘forget’ putting safety measures. Govt should have sought the advice of scientists like him to advise before the commencement of the mining. We also need to train our own scientists on nuclear physics

  2. Mogale you should simply tell us that uranium is a source of weapons of mass destruction and that the nuclear power plants are not safe considering what happened in Chenobyl in 1986 and more recently at Fukishima due to Tsunami. Don’t come to cheat us about radon gas. We know that radon gas is a source of short-lived polonium-218, lead-218 and bismuth214 which are collectively called radon daughters or progeny. These are a big concern in underground mines like those of Saskatchewan in Canada. If the monitoring is done and exposures happen to be less than an average of 20 mSv, then it is fine. We don’t want people to take advantage of our ignorance and start lying. In Namibia, the mines have been there since 1976. In some mines like copper mines and gold mines uranium is there and radon is there too. What is important is ventilation. The underground apartments in USA are monitored for radon gas bebause it decays into radon daughters. Those dangers are there but here you are exaggerating the issue. The article above is talking about diseases. What are these diseases? We know of the acute and chronic effects. Any industry has its particular dangers. Why don’t you talk about black lung in coal mines at Mchenga and near Sere village. Who monitors these coal miners?

  3. MADALA says:

    WHAT ARE THE GAINS AND BENEFITS OF THIS MINE TO THE PEOPLE IF THEY ARE TOLD AND WA WARNED OF THE DANGERS ???ARE THE PEOPLE BLIND ;DUMB AND DEAF ???

  4. Mogale says:

    Charlie Hebdo and Jihad John Exposed, please do not misquote me. I have not refuted that radon is inert. However you may wish to note radioactive decay is not affected by external (external to the atomic nucleus) factors such as the state of matter (gas, liquid or solid) and the chemical compound in which the radioactive isotope is found. Thus the question of inertness of radon is inconsequential. The gas is still highly radioactive.

    Charlie, you seem not to understand the concept of HALF LIFE in radioactive decay. Let’s look at the 3.8 days for radon as an example. This means if we take 1g of radon, about 0.5g will have decayed into radon daughters by the end of 3.8 days. It doesn’t mean that nothing will happen between time zero and day 3.8days and then suddenly all the 1g will spontaneously decay . Shorter half lives mean a higher probability of decay at any given time. It is exponential decay, thus the newer the sample, the faster the decay, and the older the sample, the slower the decay. So again the question of holding the radon gas in your chest for a day does not arise as the decay is a continuous process.

    I know about the abundance of uranium in the earth’s crust. I also know that radon gas leaks from the ground even if U is not mined. The issue of concern is the concentration of the material.

    I also know that U235 is the sought isotope. That is the case because U235 is more easily fissionable that U238, hence U235 is practical for power generation and bombs. That is not to say that U238 does not emit alpha particles. Inhaling U238 dust does puts one at higher risk of developing lung cancer because the particles can stay in the lungs for months or even years.

    I would agree that this article is not technically sufficient, but it conveys the important message to the layman. Uranium mining has never been safe. Do your research.

    Finally let me reiterate that you seem to have vested interest in this mining and you are deliberately distorting scientific facts. Information on these issues is freely available from the web, so if your fallacies are as a result of ignorance, please make use of these resources. Start from Google.

  5. Mbolo Sidwala! says:

    Any comment frm one greg walker?

  6. Radon gas is harmless but its daughters or progeny are. Uranium and thorium are less harmless by virtue of their long half lives that are in billions of years. The white man here is lying. Counts per seconds are used to determine contamination by radioactive material. The Geiger-Muller counter is used for this while sieverts determine exposure.

  7. Enukweni says:

    BRAVO KOSSAM AND THE GROUP, WE NEED PEOPLE WHO CAN STAND FOR THE TRUTH WHETHER MONEY OR NO MONEY. SOME ARE JUST SAYING ALOT OF THINGS BUT THEY ARE NOT IN KARONGA NETHER THEIR RELATIONS ARE. WE HAVE RELATIONS IN KARONGA AND WE SEE THAT AND THE PEOPLE WHO DINE WITH PALADIN ARE STAING IN LIONGWE AND ALTHOUGH SOME HAVE DIED BUT WE CAN SEE THERE WEALTH. MALAWIANS LETS LOVE OUR COUNTRY AND OUR PEOPLE

  8. the poorest country on earth says:

    hahaha! what happens now? mulipo ochepa kale kumeneko pano radiation ikuphopholani! koma guys mulibe ntachi…lol

  9. dadaboma says:

    DPP has killed the people of KA and workers at PAL. DPP will rubbish these findings and accuse the French Researcher of fabrication. The poorest country in the world is now eating its own people for survival. PAL is giving a lot of money to DPP, and DPP would rather kill the people of KA to survive. This is cannibalism, a practice all animals resort to when placed in danger.

  10. Mogale you have to know that Charlie Hebdo is right. An inert gas has its outer electron full and cannot therefore react with anything. That is why it is call inert. However, radon undergoes a radioactive decay which is a nucleus reaction of losing two protons and two neutrons which is called an alpha particle to produce one of the radon daughters polonium-218. It is clear it is you who has not done this subject at a deeper level. Did you know that uranium is one of the most abundant elements in the earth crust.? Did you know that scientist actually look for U-235 when enriching uranium? An occupational hazard is not uranium when mining but the short-lived radon daughters. People are mostly concerned with the nucleus fission which releases an enormous of heat and neutrons. Do not just rush at critising for the sake of it. You mislead the people.

  11. freedom says:

    Some one else is trying to suffocate our democratic DPP government.it was NAC,Donner,cashgate,dying fish and now kayelekela. No No Malawians lets get together,is Malawi the first country to mine uranium? Am sure research was considered before the awarding the license.how was this French uranium specialist contracted?is the media the collect platform to give out his views?was this guy a professional,if yes I am not sure of his capability as he has rushed into rubbishing the mine.

  12. MINNING UNION PLEASE JOIN THE BAND OF THE NGOS AND OTHER GROUPS WHO WANTS THE WORKERS AND PEOPLE AROUND THE AREA TO BE PROCTETED.
    SENIOR CHIEF KARONGA TO-DAY SAYING GOVERMENT HAS BETRAYED YOU PEOPLE OF KARONGA —I THINK IT IS A DAY DREAMING AND TOO LATE TO VOMITE THOSE WORDS.

    IF IT IS TRUE WHAT YOU ARE SAYING THEN GOD BLESS YOU + AMEN +

  13. Trevor Rogers says:

    I am surprised that the french expert has not explained how radon gas is formed, or if he has this article has left it out. Radon gas is produced mainly by a uranium or thorium ore body, and it makes no difference whether the ore body is being mined or not radon gas will leak out of it. Radon Gas has been leaking out of this ore body for millions of years, and as long as the ore body is there it will continue to do so. I am not saying that radon gas is harmless, its not, its a dangerous gas in high concentrations and poorly ventilated areas. For more information on radon gas go to this link.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/radon

  14. TAKE PALADIN TO COURT says:

    PLS LETS HAVE THE MINE DECOMISSIONED AND TAKE PALADIN TO COURT IF FINDINGS ARE TRUE.THIS MEANS MALAWI LEADERSHIP HAS BEEN EATING AND SNORING ON THE JOB.DID MALAWI SET UP AN OFFICE TO LOOK AT ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES SINCE MINE WAS COMISSIONED? DOES MALAWI POLY TECHNIC CHURN OUT HALF BAKED ENVIROMENTAL SCIENTISTS ANNUALLY? IN MALAWI ANYONE CAN BE MINISTER OF MINES.MINISTER OF MINES ATUPELE INSPECTING MINE WITHOUT RADIATION EXPARTS.SO ATUPELE VISITED THE MINE AND TESTED RADIATION USING HIS NOSE EYES AND EARS AS SENSORS.DO WE HAVE PHYSICISTS IN MALAWI? WHAT INTEREST HAVE THEY SHOWN IN THE CURRENT INVESTIGATION? PLS IF THE FINDINS BY THE EXPART ARE TRUE THEN LETS TAKE PALADIN TO COURT FOR THE ACT OF DELIBERATE MISCONDUCT.AND DECOMISION THE MINE.

  15. Papani says:

    Financially the only Malawian who has benefitted from Paladin is Frank Mwenifumbo. Who sold out Malawians to Greg Walker and John Borshoff. And then Mwenifumbo stands in parliament to say Malawians are living as destitutes.
    Well Mr Mwenifumbo Malawians will live as desitutes as long as there are sell outs like you in Parliament.

  16. Mogale you want to change science? Of course it was a typographic error as having a half life of 2 days and 3.8 days makes it better. The other facts remain scientifically unchanged. If uranium affects people it does so as a heavy metal and because of its radioactivity. These are scientific facts that remain unchanged. Radon is from group 8 and is a noble gas. That is a scientific fact. Can Radon stay in the body for a day? It will be breathed out without any reaction. The radon daughters stick to dust particles and are a threat to workers. This is in ILO and WHO documentation. Who are you to change these facts? You read without understanding science at all. I have a degree in these things.

  17. Mogale you want to change science? Of course it was a typographic error as having a half life of 2 days. The other facts remain scientifically unchanged. If uranium affects people it does so as a heavy metal and because of its radioactivity. These are scientific facts that remain unchanged. Radon is from group 8 and is a noble gas. That is a scientific fact. Can Radon stay in the body for a day? It will be breathed out without any reaction. The radon daughters stick to dust particles and are a threat to workers. This is in ILO and WHO documentation. Who are you to change these facts? You read without understanding science at all. I have a degree in these things.

    1. kanchenga. says:

      Foolishness at its best. So you had to wait for a Frenchman to start educating your fellow citizens. When civil society groups were talking you could have supported them by providing this information. But you allow the Nankhumwas to start cheating us that we are safe.

  18. Onasiwelo says:

    Do not blame the mining company alone blames also stupid policies and politics of the country, kayelekela benefited the late kahuna and his cohorts who built mansions and the like yet my people at Karonga and the around areas will pay the price with their loved lives, there was EPA done, and this is just the start of many bad things to come. The same with the in land port at Nsanje thanks to Chisano and his gaffament they do value their people and reasorcees they asked for EPA before it gets started. Shame to the leadership of this country shame to the nation shame to the Paladin guys. Thats is the price people pay for chosing crooks to rule the country. MAY GOD STRIKE YOU ALL
    . I hate you.

  19. Kanyimbi says:

    People like Charlie Hebdo Reporter are not needed in Malawi. This is a dangerous issue because the radioactive water from the mine enters Lake Malawi. Shortly most Malawians will suffer due to the following:
    1. fish will be contaminated and most Malawians depend on fish for food so Malawians will have cancer.
    2. Lake Malawi will never be a tourist attraction because of polluted water this will result in more busiiness being closed
    So I wonder if this comment is coming from a Malawian or not. Machende ache Charlie Hebdo ameneyu.

  20. Mogale says:

    Charlie Hebdo (Number 8), don’t try to fool people by being technical about this issue! All isotopes of uranium are radioactive, that’s the bottom line. You have conveniently forgotten to mention that U238 dust can be inhaled and can contaminate water sources. U238 dust can settle in the lungs and expose internal organs to alpha particles. U238 fine dust particles ingested through contaminated water and plants will damage kidneys.

    When radon gas decomposes, where do the radon daughters go? Don’t these become nano dust particles? Can’t these be inhaled? Can’t these contaminate water sources? You also lie that radon gas decays in 2 days. Are you a scientist? Do you really understand that radioactive decay is exponential decay? Even then, the half life of radon is 3.8 days not even the misleading 2 days you mention. Also radon being inert (or noble) doesn’t mean it is not harmful. It is in fact one of the most radioactive and most dangerous because being a gas, it is easily inhaled.

    If you are a beneficiary of PAL, the best you can do is shut up, than pretending to be an expert in nuclear physics and embarrass yourself in the process by exposing your ignorance.

  21. ndagha says:

    eeeeh! koma ndiye coz a mining ndi amene ayenera kutengapo gawo larikuru kuteteza anthu awo m’mene angagwilire ntchito koma nawo so angokhala tchete. please directors of mines work up! anthu anu akuonongeka

  22. sabiti says:

    Due procceses were not properly followed becoz there was huge sums of blood money hanging somewhere althou some groups were blowing the whistle on the impending danger they coudnt listern there we are now poor souls at risk

  23. popapo says:

    By the way Ntemi Kyungu, Undule Mwakasungula, Kossam Munthali never wanted Kayelekera to start operating unless thorough precautions were put in place. It was Chief Kalonga, Green Mwamondwe, Frank Mwenifumbo, Du Mhango who were in the fore front dining with Paladin to fast track opening of the mine. So please hands off Ntemi Kyungu on this but the other people mentioned here. We know the story very well !

  24. Patriot says:

    We MUST thank the four maize party for polluting our environment for their self enrichment (ndata). Senior and Junior + that stupid white boy from australia have killed Karonga and sourrounding areas.
    Why do you think Kamuzu did not go into mining?
    1. Azungu ngakuba.
    2. Amalemera ndi andale okha okha.
    3. Zimabweretsa nkhondo ndi imfa.

    SAY NO TO MINING

  25. concerned citizen says:

    Charlie Hebdo your writing on the wall shows me that you are a Kayelekera employee.ofcourse one cannot point an accusing finger at a hand that feeds him. I wonder a malawian like you backing a company that has done more harm than good. You need to be careful because it’s you people there who will start showing cancer related signs when the mine closes

  26. These are pure lies by the so called French expert. What is the name of the gas this liar is talking about. If it is radon then it does not need a properly constructed building. Proper ventilation is the solution to accummulation of radon which decays after 2 days into radon daughters or progeny polonium 218, lead 214 and bismuth 214. It is these that are strongly radioactive because they have very short half-lives of 3 minutes, 27 minutes and 160 microseconds. Radon does not have any effect because it is an inert gas from group 8. The radon progeny are metals that attach themselves to dust. They are the ones that pause a danger to all uranium mining especially underground mining and not open cast like Kayekera. It is a pity that somebody can travel all the way from France to cheat Malawians. What does chief Karonga know about radioactivity? What do our reporters know about radioactivity? Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years and is no threat at all. The only threat comes from the radon daughters mentioned above but mostly in underground mines like those found in France. This expert is a pure liar. Radiation is monitored on daily basis using gamma surveys and personal dosimeters. We should not be fooled by these people who have nothing to do in their home lands. There is a difference between uranium mining and nuclear power generation. At nuclear power plants it is partially enriched uranium 235 (enriched between 3-5 %) that is used. There it is neutrons from split nuclei that pose a danger. The gamma radation emmissions are strong in such situations. I request our reporters to do more research on this or consult nuclear chemists or physicist before misleading the general public.

  27. Nkhombokombo says:

    Just close this death trap, we seem not to be taking any gains from this trash. All we hear are quarells or smears from the mine. Do not kill us while still looking. Your money is dirty!

  28. Enukweni says:

    This is pathetic situation. Boma lathu kuba want money from Paradin on the expense of Malawians. Federalism ingobwera basis.Vutonso to a nyamata ta boma pa council

  29. musisipala says:

    This is very bad for Malawi , Kayelekela is a health hazard to the nation ,

  30. aphiri says:

    Dirty money is wat people want .u corrupt leaders.

  31. Anthu ananezi lero a Kyungu munena chani ma CSOs mwawafuna lero

  32. Hypochondriac businz prefering serving money than saving lives.quiet hellish.

  33. John says:

    And DPP en APM were busy protecting Paladin just because they were getting something in return. As corrupt as his brother the bastard is.

Comments are closed.