It’s just over a month since Greenpeace announced it had found high radiation contamination levels in the streets of Akokan close to French nuclear company AREVA’s uranium mines in Niger.
Today, we’re able to tell you that AREVA have confirmed with their own survey that radiation levels in the area were unacceptably high after having earlier declared the streets of Akokan safe. The company says the area has now been cleaned and also checked by the radiation safety authority. It also states that it has a plan of action for a complete survey of the two cities close to its uranium mines, and is promising that by the end of next year both will have been completely checked and cleaned up.
However, we remain worried. Would this action have been taken had it not been for Greenpeace visiting Akokan and taking its own radiation measurements? Why did AREVA’s own monitoring procedures not detect radioactive contamination levels as high as 500 times normal levels? Are the companies monitoring techniques adequate? The health and environmental impacts of years of uranium mining in Niger has yet to be fully assessed. That’s why Greenpeace is demanding a comprehensive, transparent and independent environmental assessment of the area be conducted urgently.
A full report of what Greenpeace found in Niger will be released soon.
(More information in French can be found at Nigerdiaspora.net. The Greenpeace briefing document for our findings is here. Radiation measurement tool photograph © Greenpeace/Philip Reynaers)