4 December 2012

Tanzania: LHRC Urges Protection of Public From Uranium Hazards

Photo: Chatham House/Flickr
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (file photo).

THE government has been advised to put in place a policy, laws and regulations that show how the public, especially those living around uranium mining areas, will be protected against uranium hazards.

The Legal and Human Rights Centre Acting Director, Ms Emelda Urio, said although the government has already given the green light for foreign mining companies to mine uranium in the country, there are no policies, laws or regulations governing it.

Ms Urio noted that there are enormous health risks implications including cancer and effects on reproductive systems for both men and women resulting from coming into contact with uranium.

"Uranium has lots of challenges that the nation needs to address before allowing the mineral to be mined from the ground, which includes cancer, genetic defects due to radiation and toxics," she explained. The Chairman from the Uranium Network in Germany, Mr Gunter Wippel, said toxic from uranium can reduce the ability of a man to make children and the ability of women to conceive as well as damaging the genetic make for a person.

"Uranium comes together with its decay products, which are radioactive, some are highly poisonous and some are well known to cause cancer, like the only gaseous decay product radon," Mr Wippel explained. He said German is spending more than 7bn Euros to reclaim old uranium mining areas in Eastern Germany, areas that cannot be used for any developmental activities, including building houses or agriculture.

He explained that uranium mining uses up a lot of water and power, commodities that Tanzania does not have in plenty, adding that waste from uranium cannot be recycled as claimed by many. Mr Wippel was giving a presentation on experience of other countries, including African nations, that are mining uranium and the many challenges they are facing.

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