PAHO team declares mercury emission levels at GGMC compound safe – source

PAHO TESTING: A member of the PAHO team testing equipment last week at the GGMC Brickdam compound.

A Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) five-member team has completed its examinations and has found that the mercury emission levels at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) office on Brickdam are at a safe level, a source close to the investigation says.

The PAHO team, which arrived last Wednesday and began working immediately, comprised two industrial hygienists, two physicians and one mining engineer.

According to the source, the team completed its work and departed Guyana on Sunday. The team was able to complete three site visits, and also met with Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott for a closing meeting.

The source explained that the team brought their own equipment and after multiple tests around the GGMC and Guyana Gold Board (GGB) compound, they discovered that the mercury emissions levels are “okay”. However, the source pointed out that they are unsure of when the workers will resume working in the compound since there is additional cleaning up that needs to be done.

“They did the testing to check the air quality and there wasn’t anything alarming and they don’t have to wear any protective equipment at Brickdam (GGMC),” the source noted.

The Department of Labour from the Ministry of Social Protection will also be carrying out additional work and tests, and a report is expected to be completed by next week.

The source also noted that the team has recommended that tests for mercury levels should be done through urine samples as opposed to blood testing.

Earlier in the month, Ministers Lawrence and Trotman had explained that two teams from PAHO had been invited to assist with the investigation.

The announcement came after there was mounting pressure on the government following the deaths of four GGMC workers during the year, as a result of what had been suspected to be links to high levels of mercury in their blood.

Lawrence had pointed out that the second team would look at the various aspects of dealing with mercury emissions, including the protocols and standards, and would also work along with the GGMC and the GGB to ensure that all the necessary standards are put in place and adhered to, and done in a way in which the workers would be comfortable.

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