Quantcast

World's Poorest Suffer From Radioactive Sickness as Areva Mines for Uranium

Business

More than 60 percent of Niger's population lives on less than $1 per day, and even more have no electricity.

Still, French company Areva keeps contaminating those residents and their environment while mining away for uranium—one of the few resources the world's poorest country still has.

Areva has operated in northern Niger for four decades, according to Keith Slack, the global program manager of Oxfam America's Extractive Industries team. The French government owns about 80 percent of the company, which provides nearly one-third of the uranium consumed by the nuclear power plants that supply most of France’s energy.

Areva has exported hundreds of millions of dollars worth of uranium from Niger over the years, according to a recent briefing note by Oxfam France and Nigerien group ROTAB. In 2010, Greenpeace conducted an analysis with the France-based Research and Independent Information on Radioactivity Commission (CRIIRAD) that found that the uranium contamination in four out of five water samples exceeded World Health Organization safety limits.

Greenpeace and CRIIRAD also found evidence of radon, a radioactive gas dissolved in water. Despite evidence like the interviews and images from the above video by SciDev.NetAreva vehemently denies that its actions impact Niger and its residents.

Additionally, the company claims that it gives 85 percent of its uranium profits back to the Nigerien government, despite a report from Oxfam and ROTAB showing that the government really only received about 13 percent.

Pushed on the matter, an unnamed Areva spokesman told Le Monde that "two uranium mines alone can’t finance the development of 17 million people.”

According to Oxfam, Areva's two subsidiaries in Niger, Somaïr and Cominak, receive a slew of exemptions from fuel taxes, value-added taxes and more. One provision for the reconstruction of mines allows the company to set aside 20 percent of its profits, which end up being excluded from corporate taxes.

As a result, Oxfam and ROTAB are calling for more transparency, as well as more of a fight from Niger's government, encouraging its members to push for agreements to be debated in Parliament and for the publishing of Areva's audits.

“This situation cannot continue,” Ali Idrissa, coordinator of ROTAB, said at a 2013 protest in front of Areva’s offices in Niamey, Niger, according to Reuters.

“France must prove that the time for secret agreements, closed negotiations and pressures is over. African countries should be able to count on fair revenues from French companies extracting their resources.”

Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A young fingerling Chinook salmon leaps out of the water at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, California on May 16, 2018. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Trump administration is rolling back protections for endangered California fish species, a move long sought by a group of wealthy farmers that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt continued to lobby for months before he began working for the administration, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less

By Gretchen Goldman

The Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel has released their consensus recommendations to the EPA administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. The group of 20 independent experts, that were disbanded by Administrator Wheeler last October and reconvened last week, hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, has now made clear that the current particulate pollution standards don't protect public health and welfare.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An African elephant is pictured on November 19, 2012, in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The unprecedented drought that has caused a water crisis in Zimbabwe has now claimed the life of at least 55 elephants since September, according to a wildlife spokesman, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Maria Dornelas.

By John C. Cannon

Life is reshuffling itself at an unsettling clip across Earth's surface and in its oceans, a new study has found.

Read More Show Less
An Exxon station in Florida remains open despite losing its roof during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Florida Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
El Niño's effect on Antarctica is seen in a tabular iceberg off of Thwaites ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck / NASA

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change, according to a new study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less

By Julia Ries

  • Antibiotic resistance has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • Additionally a new study found one patient developed resistance to a last resort antibiotic in a matter of weeks.
  • Health experts say antibiotic prescriptions should only be given when absolutely necessary in order to avoid growing resistance.

Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the greatest public health threats.

Read More Show Less
Pexels


There are hundreds of millions of acres of public land in the U.S., but not everyone has had the chance to hike in a national forest or picnic in a state park.

Read More Show Less