Mining operations: Health Observatory launched in Gabon
ACTIVITES / MINES
October 19, 2010
The statutory meeting of the Health Observatory of Mounana, Gabon, was held today in Libreville. The meeting marks the startup of this new organization, part of a comprehensive initiative by AREVA in partnership with Sherpa and Médecins du Monde.
The purpose of the Mounana Health Observatory is to monitor the health of former workers exposed to uranium and to study the potential impacts of mining operations on the health of the nearby Gabonese population.
The first medical check-ups of former COMUF* workers have begun. They may be supplemented by additional examinations, such as blood tests and chest x-rays. AREVA will bear the cost of treatment of any disease attributable to its mining operations, in line with French regulations.
The initiative, unprecedented in the mining sector, was conducted under the aegis of Gabonese governmental agencies, representatives of which will join the Board of Directors following its first meeting on October 21. At that time, the project partners will decide on the composition of the bodies responsible for running and overseeing the operation of the Observatory, such as a scientific council, a medical committee and a coordinating unit.
Alain Acker, Medical Director of AREVA, stated that “the Health Observatories are the result of unprecedented, model dialogue between national agencies, non-governmental organizations and a responsible industrial partner. They have become a reality in Gabon and we hope that similar organizations will soon emerge in other countries.”
* Compagnie des Mines d’Uranium de Franceville (COMUF), of which AREVA has been the principal shareholder since 1986, operated the uranium deposits of the Haut-Ogooué province in southeastern Gabon from 1961 to 1999.
Operating mainly in the Mounana region, the company produced 26,660 metric tons of uranium over the 38 years of its industrial activity. The sites have since been undergoing rehabilitation, with final restoration operations in progress.