No threatening levels of mercury found at GGMC – PAHO/WHO team

first_imgThe Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) team assessing the claims of mercury exposure at GGMC has found no threatening levels of mercury at the complex.Last Saturday, the WHO/PAHO team briefed Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman and Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence, on their findings.“The team did say though they are not here to certify that necessarily but they did say that they found that the levels at the GGMC compound and its environs were below any threatening level. That I believe is a testament that the job was very well done,” Minister Trotman is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying.The international team of experts visited Guyana last week and, among other things, assessed the mercury clean-up efforts at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Brickdam complex.The team comprised of two industrial hygienists, two physicians and a mining engineer and was headed by Industrial Hygienist and head of the team, Catherine Beecham.The team visited Guyana following mercury exposure crisis at the complex. The Guyana Gold Board ceased the burning of gold at the GGMC complex in April following health and safety concerns. The GGB is currently sourcing alternative facilities to conduct its exercises.Minister Trotman noted the recent mercury exposure situation at the GGMC complex is an opportunity to improve how the mining industry utilises mercury.“Every effort will be made and that effort has started to ensure that they are protected to ensure that we deal with mercury and its ill effects,” he said.Concerns at GGMCEarlier this month, the parliamentary Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had raised questions over the recent deaths of four GGMC staffers; a matter that has seemingly been shrouded in an information blackout.In a statement, the party expressed condolences to the relatives of the deceased staffers, whose names were given as Dwayne De Jonge (ranger), Latchman Chiti (surveyor), Leroy Green (carpenter) and Clement Proffit (laboratory technician). According to the PPP, the issue is one that must be addressed urgently by the relevant authorities.The Party also raised possible links to the mercury poisoning that had afflicted workers at the GGMC during amalgam burning exercises. According to the PPP, all four men were documented to have been affected by mercury poisoning.A few months ago, a number of GGMC staffers had walked off the job citing concerns over exposure to mercury. The decision resulted in the authorities trying to mediate around the issue.Following the discovery of high levels of mercury in its laboratory, which is in the GGMC compound, the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) had contracted the services of Trinidad-based Kaizen Environmental Services to conduct an independent investigation of the effect of the emission, and that company has said the mercury levels are back to normal.According to the report, the study was conducted on March 28, 2018, at 10 locations primarily located within the Guyana Geology and Mines Commissions’ compound and the surrounding areas.“The mercury (Hg) levels monitored at all 10 locations were within the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (US OSHA) eight-hour Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL),” the report stated.Out of over 130 staffers tested, it was discovered that more than 60 reported high levels of mercury in their system. Trotman, appearing before the National Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee, had subsequently revealed that the Gold Board had moved its gold burning operations to a private dealer.last_img