Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Energy News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



CIVIL NUCLEAR
For Gabon's sickly uranium miners, a long quest for compensation
by Staff Writers
Mounana, Gabon (AFP) Nov 29, 2017


"We are all sick. It's our health, and we are being conned," Moise Massala says angrily.

The 82-year-old is a retired geochemist who used to work in a uranium mine in Gabon owned by French nuclear giant Areva.

He and hundreds of other former workers say they fell ill from their work to extract the uranium -- a source of nuclear power and warheads, but toxic and potentially carcinogenic.

The miners worked for an Areva subsidiary -- the Compagnie des mines d'uranium de Franceville, better known by its abbreviation of COMUF.

Over 38 years, the mine extracted some 26,000 tonnes of uranium near Mounana, southeastern Gabon, before closing in 1999 after the global price of uranium fell and the seam of ore began to thin.

By the end of 2016, 367 former workers had died from "pulmonary respiratory infections" linked to working in the mine, according to MATRAC, a campaign group gathering 1,618 former employees.

The surviving miners, many of them old and sick, have unsuccessfully demanded compensation for 12 years in the belief they were exposed to dangerous levels of uranium contamination.

Areva, a multi-billion-dollar business majority-owned by the French state, has repeatedly denied that it has any case to answer.

"No occupational disease related to exposure to ionising radiation" has ever been detected, it says.

- 'Many serious diseases' -

An internal company mail dating from 2015, seen by AFP and independently verified, acknowledges that the company was aware many of its former employees had developed serious ailments.

In the mail, Areva's health director, Pierre Laroche, wrote that "many serious diseases have been detected among former employees, for example contagious tuberculosis".

For former workers, this proves the company's liability and justifies their claims for compensation, even if it does not legally prove all their illnesses are directly linked to excessive levels of uranium exposure.

The firm has refused to give payouts to the vast majority of its employees, apart from compensation payments in 2011 to the families in France of two French former mine workers who died of lung cancer.

The company has repeatedly argued it was difficult to establish if the rate of cancer cases among former miners was greater than those occurring in the wider population.

"That there was radioactivity in Mounana is a reality. (But) to what degree and to what extent the workers were affected, it will be very difficult to establish," a former senior executive of the mine told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

In similar disputes elsewhere in the world, experts acknowledge the difficulty of pinning cancer and respiratory diseases on nuclear exposure at work.

Smoking and other "lifestyle" habits could, for instance, be a cause.

- 'We are sick' -

Areva has been under pressure to compensate its employees for more than a decade.

In 2007, French NGOs Sherpa and Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) carried out field surveys in Mounana and in Niger, another Areva uranium mining site.

They published a report denouncing what they described as high rates of cancer among former employees.

Areva agreed to investigate the situation and launched a health initiative in 2009 -- the Mounana Health Observatory (OSM) -- promising to pay compensation and treat former miners who fell ill, provided scientific and medical panels confirmed their disease was attributable to industrial causes.

Seven years on, not one former employee has been compensated.

"I've had difficulty breathing for 10 years," says 77-year-old Roland Mayombo, who spent 27 years in the mine.

"I went to the OSM four times a year, but I have never had a result," he complained.

"We decided to stop going (to the OSM) because no one has ever given us our analysis results," said Estime Beno Ngodi, president of MATRAC, who says he is suffering from lung cancer.

COMUF accuses MATRAC of spreading "misinformation" and defends its handling of the health initiative.

It looked at more than 650 former workers but suspended the project in 2015 because of a boycott by MATRAC, says Gilles Recoche, COMUF's director of the board.

"We're proud of having set up a unique tripartite structure, which enabled former COMUF workers to benefit from a free medical visit," he adds.

For the surviving miners, their long battle to prove a direct link between their illness and uranium contamination goes on. But, for many, age and sickness are wearing them down.

"It's battle between David and Goliath," sighs Massala.

CIVIL NUCLEAR
Belarus nuclear power plant stirs fears in Lithuania
Ostrovets, Belarus (AFP) Nov 26, 2017
Thirty years after the Chernobyl disaster spewed radioactive clouds into the sky and sent shockwaves across Europe, Belarus is building a nuclear reactor on the doorstep of the EU despite fears in neighbouring Lithuania. Construction of the facility, located in the northwestern Belarusian town of Ostrovets only around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Lithuanian border, is entering its final ... read more

Related Links
Nuclear Power News - Nuclear Science, Nuclear Technology
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

CIVIL NUCLEAR
Cleaning Okinawan pig farm wastewater with microbial fuel cells

Brazilian ethanol can replace 13 percent of global crude oil consumption

The water world of ancient photosynthetic organisms

Surrey develops new 'supercatalyst' to recycle carbon dioxide and methane

CIVIL NUCLEAR
Burkina, France launch W.Africa's biggest solar plant

Improving solar cells by watching atoms move in hybrid perovskite crystals

Artificial photosynthesis gets big boost from new catalyst

Glass microparticles enhance solar cells efficiency

CIVIL NUCLEAR
U.S. wind turbines getting taller and more efficient

New wind farm in service off the British coast

End tax credits for wind energy, Tennessee Republican says

New York sets high bar for wind energy

CIVIL NUCLEAR
Improving sensor accuracy to prevent electrical grid overload

Japan faces challenges in cutting CO2, Moody's finds

IEA: An electrified world would cost $31B per year to achieve

'Fuel-secure' steps in Washington counterintuitive, green group says

CIVIL NUCLEAR
New computational method provides optimized design of wind up toys

Statoil: Batteries can address wind power variability

Musk beats deadline for building world's biggest battery

Musk's record-breaking battery officially launches in Australia

CIVIL NUCLEAR
Vietnam jails activist for 7 years over toxic leak protests

Clean-up dives, recycling: Lebanese respond to garbage crisis

'Trash islands' off Central America indicate ocean pollution problem

Global light pollution increasing at a rate of two percent per year

CIVIL NUCLEAR
Libyan PM asks for easing of arms embargo

U.S. set to be net gas exporter for second year in a row

Norway sells foreign currencies in petroleum-related move

OPEC expectations lift oil prices higher

CIVIL NUCLEAR
Gadgets for Mars

Ice shapes the landslide landscape on Mars

Winds Blow Dust off the Solar Panels Improving Energy Levels

Previous evidence of water on Mars now identified as grainflows




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement