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.
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 :