Thursday, June 12, 2014

NGOs demonstrate against uranium extraction in Mongolia

Several NGOs expressed their opposition to uranium extraction in Mongolia, informed the public of the fatal effects of uranium extraction in Ulaanbadrakh soum, and prompted decision makers to visit the soum in Dornogovi Province to witness conditions during a peaceful demonstration at Central Square on Monday.

Residents of Ulaanbadrakh soum contacted the NGOs for support against the uranium operations of Gogegobi LLC and Areva Mongol LLC, a fully owned subsidiary of French uranium-giant Areva, at the soum, which has reportedly seen 200 livestock die and many more with birth defects due to uranium contamination in the region.

One of the ten herders that demonstrated at Central Square, D.Gantur highlighted, “The very critical environmental condition in our soum was followed by the delivery of mutated livestock. After snow or rain, livestock and people are experiencing fur and hair loss, as well as rashes. Some former residents of Ulaanbadrakh soum told us that these problems went away after moving.”

“We are no longer consuming the internal organs of our livestock. A three-legged colt was born to our neighboring herder family, while an eight-legged goat and two-headed sheep have been delivered by another family whose livestock are watered from the same well as our neighbor.

“As for me, there’s a young goat with two short front legs and three colts that are unable to walk in my herd,” added D.Gantur.

The herders said that Ulaanbadrakh soum Governor P.Gankhuyag turned them down when approached about this issue and told them, “No one has proven that uranium is toxic. We can’t suspend uranium operations that will benefit the nation because of the interests of few residents.”

Golomt Anti-Nuclear Movement, Gal Undesten, Green Peace and Bosoo Khukh Mongol NGOs held the demonstration.

Head of Bosoo Khukh Mongol NGO E.Tumurkhuyag commented, “The first research done in a veterinary laboratory has proven that [mutation] is indeed derived from uranium contamination. However, the 100 million MNT government study denied the previous result last year. We will send a demand to the President of Mongolia to visit Ulaanbadrakh soum.”

“Uranium is extracted by digging and sulfuric acid is sprayed deep into the ground. Sulfur is very toxic, so those consuming meat and dairy products of livestock that grazed on contaminated pastures run a high risk of cancer. Though we have met Gogegobi administrators and handed them our demands, their press report depicted us as burglars and as if we were paid to make trouble.”

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