Overseas experts arrive to test mercury emissions from gold board lab

The overseas-based experts who will be conducting tests to determine the mercury emission levels from the Brickdam laboratory of the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) are in the country but are awaiting the arrival of their equipment to begin their work, GGB Chairman GHK Lall says.

The experts have been brought in after both the GGB and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) acknowledged that there was a problem with mercury emissions at the lab.

Although both have said they believe that the situation is under control because of the many measures taken to improve mercury management activities, Lall explained that they have brought in the experts to verify the results they have received from their testing and to quell concerns that the emissions are more severe.

Lall told this newspaper that the experts arrived in the country last Thursday but are waiting on additional equipment that is going to take about three days to arrive. As a result, by the end of the week, the tests should be conducted and they should have the results.

“Our people who are there all day around this thing, their levels have been good. This thing is a quirky thing. We had a guy who started out and on his first day on the job, as part of the procedure, he had to get tested. Within two hours, his numbers were elevated without doing any work. What we found out is that people who eat a lot of fish, their mercury levels could be elevated. So, right away no exposure to gold smelting or anything and this guy had a problem,” Lall said, while emphasising that when they receive the results of the additional tests by the end of the week, they will be able to make a much clearer pronouncement.

Lall had previously stated that the GGB employees are regularly tested and their mercury levels are monitored. In addition, their pollution engineer, Isidro Espinoza, has given them written certification that the emissions are within the safety margin.

The GGB has also implemented other safety measures, including a comprehensive inspection of the entire emissions controls system; timely refurbishing of all areas and aspects of related systems; physical extension of emissions chimney; testing of work and resulting emissions; arranging for written assurances (warranties) as to work performed; continuing with an aggressive maintenance schedule; recruiting external monitoring parties for safety certification purposes; and continuous monitoring to detect any suspicious levels.

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