Uranium miner Paladin has hit back at French nuclear physicist Bruno Chareyron who after visiting the Kayerekera Mine in the northern district of Karonga warned that people living and working around the site risk contracting radioactive related diseases.
Paladin’s General Manager for Malawi, Greg Walker told Nyasa Times in a statemen that there is no risk to the miner’s employees or the community posed by radiation from Kayelekera Mine, which is comparable with background radiation found in many parts of the world.
Walker said it was irresponsible to suggest otherwise and unfortunate that the French expert should unnecessarily alarm people.
“It is unfortunate that Mr Chareyron seemed intent on arousing concerns over alleged health and safety issues arising from mining activities at Kayelekera,” said Walker.
The Australian miner labelled comments by Chareyron as “confrontational” concerning alleged radiation-associated health risks faced by Kayelekera employees and the community around Kayelekera Mine, which Paladin refutes.
“It is regrettable that – rather than bringing an objective and analytical perspective to the debate – since arriving in Malawi this week, Mr Chareyron merely has repeated several of the misleading and sensationalist claims made in recent weeks by local NGO activists opposed to the release of treated surplus run-off water stocks at Kayelekera Mine,” Walker said.
He said it was “disappointing” considering the fact that Chareyron made his comments after he visited Kayelekera Mine on Tuesday, 24 February 2015, when he was given the opportunity to see for himself preparations and safeguards made for the water release programme and to discuss associated issues with Company and government environmental experts.
Walker said claims concerning radiation risks to employees and the community are “ unfounded and alarmist”.
“Chareyron has referred to spillage from the run-off dam on 05 January 2015, which did not occur, and to the Company having ‘a huge accumulation of radioactive waste at the mining area,’ which is simply untrue.
“ Chareyron questioned the decision by the [government of Malawi] to use the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline for uranium content in drinking water as the standard for the discharge licence granted to Paladin, although this is widely recognized as a benchmark. Paladin believes that if Mr Chareyron has an issue with this standard, it is a matter he should properly take up with the WHO.”
He explained that employees at Kayelekera Mine are being exposed to radiation levels that are much less than the international limit for occupational doses and which are comparable to dose levels that can be found – due to natural background radiation – in many other parts of the world.
“To suggest that Kayelekera Mine employees, or the community, should require treatment or compensation for health risks associated with exposure to such low level occupational radiation is simply imprudent and misleading,” said Walker.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :