Report due on mercury testing of gold board staff

The report on the tests being done by international specialists on Guyana Gold Board (GGB) staff for signs of mercury poisoning is expected to be finished by midweek, Chairman of the Board,  GHK Lall says.

Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, Lall said that the professionals were able to collect their equipment during the course of last week and subsequently carried out several tests in the presence of two officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“What I can say is that we got cut short because of the holidays and they are still here and we have asked to get a written report on where things stand,” Lall said, while pointing out that he expects the report to be finished by Wednesday.

When asked about the preliminary results, Lall related that so far it is “looking real good” and they had not received any alarming signals from the international specialists. The report is expected to further solidify the GGB’s position that the mercury emissions from its lab have not reached a dangerous level in their staff and that they are taking all precautionary measures to prevent such.

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

Additionally, the GGB has ensured that other safety measures were taken, including: a comprehensive inspection of the entire emissions controls system, timely refurbishing of all areas and aspects of related systems, physical extension of the emissions chimney, satisfactory 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.

A joint statement from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the GGB had acknowledged that there was a problem with mercury emissions. However, they disputed statements in the media that matters are at a crisis stage and that many are “in the danger zone.”

“Both the GGMC and the GGB believe that this matter is under control because of the many measures taken”, the statement said, adding that the two agencies have collaborated in the past several weeks to improve mercury management activities at the Brickdam Complex so that there are no emissions of mercury during daily operations.

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