The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in a statement has expressed concern with what it says are the “untimely deaths” of four Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) staffers, who the party, identified as “Mr. Dwayne De Jonge (ranger), Mr. Latchman Chiti (surveyor), Mr. Leroy Green (carpenter) and Mr. Clement Proffit (lab technician).”
Moreover, the PPP said that “the deaths of these staffers, who were documented to have been affected by mercury poisoning, makes it clear that every effort must be made to ensure that working conditions are safe.”
In its most recent publication, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) had said that the recent discovery that some employees of the (GGMC) are suffering the effects of exposure to mercury emission, is not being taken lightly.
Moreover, it was disclosed that following the disclosure that some staff were affected, 130 employees of the GGMC and the GGB (Guyana Gold Board) were tested, while further testing will now be done by an overseas company, Kaizen Environmental Services (Guyana) Ltd.
It was also established that the GGB lab responsible for the mercury poisoning was removed from the GGMC compound following protests from workers over their health concerns.
While outlining the reported deaths are not a political issue, the Party said that “These four deaths, which follow each other in such a short period of time, should be a cause for serious concern. It is disturbing that the government and the GGMC have been reluctant to inform the staff and public about actions taken to ensure protection of, not only staffers, but also those in surrounding communities.”
The PPP said it will support the Government of Guyana to ensure that every effort is made to guarantee the health and safety of our people, while expressing condolences to the families and co-workers of these men that died.
Highlighting that the deaths of the staffers must be, supported by calls for measures to be taken to reduce the risks to other staff and residents in the neighbouring communities, the PPP is urging “immediate action by the relevant authorities, including the management of the GGMC and the Ministry of Public Health, to ensure the occupational health and safety standards are in place and the welfare of all staff and citizens are protected.”
According to the PPP “the GGMC and the Ministry of Public Health must also operationalize all precautionary measures including testing and appropriate treatment of all staff, and persons in neighbouring communities, whom may have been exposed. This should be done at the cost of the GGMC. The PPP/C also supports the sourcing of specialists to respond to this matter before it becomes a bigger public health crisis.”