Stabroek News

Second team of PAHO mercury inspection engineers in Guyana

The two sides posing for a photo (MNR photo)

A second team of Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) experts are here in connection with concerns earlier this year over mercury emissions from the former Guyana Gold Board (GGB) lab on Brickdam.

Yesterday, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman and a team comprising Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence, Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott, and Chairman of the Guyana Gold Board,  Gabriel Lall met with PAHO representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow and the team of engineers from the United States Government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

A release from the Ministry of Natural Resources said that the  two engineers, Capt. Duane R. Hammond, and Certified Industrial Hygienist, Kevin Dunn are in Guyana on the invitation of the Ministry of Natural Resources to conduct a review of the airflow dynamics at the GGB mercury capture and disposal systems at the new office in Georgetown.

The release said that the meeting enabled discourse on the Government’s steps towards ensuring public safety through the eradication of mercury emissions. Adverting to the inspection by PAHO experts for mercury at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) earlier this year,  Trotman welcomed the engineers and updated them on the Government’s efforts towards the elimination of mercury. He also referenced the continued engagement with stakeholders particularly miners, on alternatives.

Lawrence and Scott, after noting that the issue of mercury exposure has now become a public health issue, maintained their Ministries’ commitment to providing a safe working environment for the population.

The NIOSH engineers are here for six days and will conduct field visits and also meet with team members of the GGMC and GGB. A report is expected to be submitted after their visit, the release said.

This second phase of engagement follows a NIOSH visit in June 2018, when a team of five experts visited Guyana and reviewed operations at GGMC, the GGB and other facilities to ensure that they were mercury free.