Yesterday Greenpeace launched its brand new report, a little bomb of information in the nuclear world, entitled "Left in the dust: Areva's radioactive legacy in the desert towns of Niger".
The press conference took place in in Geneva, Switzerland, city hosting numerous international organizations, and among them the United Nations' World Health Organization. Jean Ziegler, vice-president of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee was the first to speak. He rang the alarm on the dramatic situation in Niger regarding food and health. He also pointed out how international law could be used to trigger pressure on countries like France and Switzerland, and through them on companies like Areva who do not endorse the full responsibility of the damages they cause in other countries like Niger.
Ziegler's alarming words only proved Greenpeace was right to go to Niger last November to check in which context the population of the mining towns of Arlit and Akokan live, showing one more time that Areva is not a trustworthy company.
Dr Rianne Teule from Greenpeace International and Dr Bruno Chareyron from CRIIRAD (an independent French laboratory that did our analysis) demonstrated Areva does not deserve peoples' trust. That it does not deserve the trust of the Nigerien mining towns' people who are clearly suffering from conditions imposed by the French company for not respecting international norms. And that our fight is the right one.
Media came, the room quickly got quite crowded and it was so motivating to see journalists' interest grow as the press conference unrolled. After asking numerous questions, the journalists were presented a short movie of the Greenpeace expedition in Niger and were then offered the opportunity to have a demonstration of radioactivity measurements of some of the samples brought back from Niger.
Funnily enough, journalists were not so keen on approaching the big cement barrel at the right corner of the room where the samples were safely guarded. Of course there was no danger in doing so as everything was cautiously sealed and manipulated, but nuclear radiations is a serious and even scary topic. Nuclear energy, from the very bottom of the chain with the mining, to the processing and storage of nuclear waste is a danger for human health and the environment.
If you are ready to face the truth and want to learn more about Areva's legacy in Niger follow me.
(This post is by Anne-Laure Meladeck, Climate & Energy Officer for Greenpeace International)