Reports show mercury emission from GGB not alarming

DPI, Guyana, Friday, April 13, 2018

Reports stemming from an investigation conducted by independent Trinidadian company Environmental Services (Guyana) Limited, on the recent mercury emission at the Guyana Gold Board’s (GGB’s) laboratory in Brickdam, have stated there is no reason for alarm. The report was submitted to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman .

This was disclosed during a press conference held at Duke Lodge, Duke Street on Friday.

Guyana Gold Board, commissioned Kaizen to conduct Air Quality Monitoring at their Laboratory and its environs located at GGMC Compound Upper Brickdam, Georgetown after its staff was suspected of having been exposed to mercury emissions coming from the Gold Board’s labs. However, monitoring conducted on March 28 at the Gold Board’s ten (10) locations, found that the Mercury (Hg) levels monitored at all 10 locations were within the United States Occupational Safety & Health Administration (US OSHA) eight (8) hour Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL).

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said while the report from the company is reassuring, the health and wellbeing of the staff of the Guyana Gold Board and residents who work and live in the neighbourhood remain paramount and steps will be taken to ensure that such an incident does not occur in the future.

“I am proposing that an expert’s review of the functions of the Gold Boards lab, to see how it can be made to better function.  Where it should be situated, what scientific and other methodology should be used and deployed to ensure that safety comes first for both the workers in the lab and also those who are around the lab,” the Minister stated.

While, the Mercury (Hg) levels in the air for the monitoring period at all of the ten (10) locations were well in compliance with the specified standard, tests conducted on employees of the GGB and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) revealed that 60 persons have mercury in their system which is above normal.

Minister Trotman said these persons will be monitored to ascertain whether the high levels are as a result of the emissions. He has also committed to ensuring that the report of the findings be made public for transparency. The report was subsequently sent out to the public.

General Manager of the Gold Board, Eondrene Thompson disclosed that they have also consulted with Activation Lab, a local company who will also be assisting in the monitoring. She explained that representative from that company have since visited the Gold Board. “He came and did a walk-through of the system. He recommended that we have two monitors. One to the port when there is burning of the metal and also at the exit, we would want to say the chimney. We will have two monitors there and he is going to bring that two equipment in and this is what we have been doing at the Guyana Gold Board to ensure the safety of our staff and GGMC,” Thompson explained.

Chairman of the GGB, Gabriel Lall, responding to a question stated that the Gold Board does not use mercury in its laboratories. He clarified that the mercury emissions emanate during the sweltering process from the gold which is bought.

Lall said going forward the government will be taking all necessary steps to protect those exposed to mercury. “What we are doing is over-compensating. This is a continuous process for us and we want to give ourselves and the people outside there – everybody – that we are going above and beyond to put layers and layers of this inspection, of testing, results; that we have got a comfort level to an extreme degree,” he stated.

General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, Eondrene Thompson.

Guyana Gold Board Chairman, Gabriel Lall.

 

By: Isaiah Braithwaite

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