PAHO experts inspecting GGMC for mercury

Demerarawaves, Thursday, June 21, 2018

Experts from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) have begun inspecting the headquarters of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and Guyana Gold Board for traces of mercury that have sickened several employees in recent months.

The PAHO experts at the GGMC compound checking for traces of mercury following a clean-up exercise several weeks ago.


GGMC Commissioner, Newell Dennisson confirmed that the inspectors began work on Wednesday and continued on Thursday.

“Their work started upon their arrival yesterday (Wednesday) and they are continuing today. I am expecting that sometime by the end of the weekend, they should have something,” he told Demerara Waves Online News in a brief comment.

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman told Demerara Waves Online News that the experts, who are drawn from the United States’ Surgeon General under PAHO’s auspices, will not be stating whether the premises are safe or not.

“They are not here to say if it is safe or not but to give recommendations on safety procedures and standard operating procedures and threshold guidance….They are not here to verify or disprove or prove anything,” he said.

The team is expected to brief Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence; Junior Minister of Social Protection, Keith Scott and the Minister of Natural Resources during which time they would be presenting a preliminary report.

A mercury clean-up of the GGMC building located at Upper Brickdam, Georgetown has been already conducted, but workers have refused to reoccupy the premises for fear that the area is still contaminated.

Several workers, whose mercury levels are above normal, are still off the job and are expected to take prescribed medication and vitamins.

Neither the GGMC nor the Gold Board uses mercury, but a defective system at the Board had resulted in the escape of the poisonous chemical into the atmosphere during the burning of gold taken by miners for sale.

Since then, the Gold Board has stopped purchasing the precious metal there and have referred sellers to at least one privately-owned licensed trader.

The  Guyana Public Service Union and the rival Guyana Civil Service and General Workers Union have publicly endorsed the need for a healthy work environment at the GGMC.

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