The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Mine Workers Sacrificed for Imperialist Profit

Mar 15, 2010

In Gabon, a French mining company Areva exploited uranium mines for 40 years, from 1958 to 1999. Investigators recently went back to the site to measure the level of radioactivity – only to find radiation levels many times higher than normal in the area.

The radiation was found not only in the old mines, which have been converted to lakes, but also in the entire surrounding area. Women rinse their dishes in these radioactive lakes. Even worse, the houses of a small town near the mines were built with stones taken from the mines. So the houses are radioactive – as are some public buildings and a dike along a river nearby.

This company is a murderer. Today, old miners are sick and dying, often from cancer. But they didn’t start to succumb to the effects until a few years after they left the job. And neither the miners nor their families ever received any compensation or aid from Areva or its Gabon subsidiary.

Nonetheless, Areva plans to start uranium mining in Gabon again. It even announced that it would set up a “health observatory” in order to “see whether or not there are problems.”

Fifty years after opening the mines, and ten years after closing them, there are plenty of problems! It’s painful to look at them.

Perhaps a few victims will get a small payoff. But who is going to rebuild the houses and even the whole town? And no one can bring back those who have died or are going to die.