A shack (pictured left) made of metal drums from the local uranium mine (pictured left) is where Areva's mineworkers live in Niger, according to local advocates in Arlit, one of two towns where Areva subsidiaries operate mines. Radioactive scap metal is available in the local markets, according to Bruno Chareyron, director of an independent French nuclear lab whose team traveled to Niger in 2003 to test levels of radioactivity in the mining communities. These metals are in turn used by villagers in their homes.
Areva, the French nuclear company that has mined in Niger for 40 years, denies there is any contamination of drinking water from the mine. However, Chareyron (pictured left) and his team, which measures radiation levels at contaminated sites in France and around the world, found high levels of radioactivity in drinking water and in rocks outside the mineworkers' hospital in Arlit, Niger (which is closed to non-miners and is owned and operated by Areva).
"I am here to tell you not to buy our uranium because it is killing us and our government has stripped us of all our rights to say 'no'," said Mitch, (pictured left) an Aboriginal activist from Australia. Sidi-Amar Taoua, a Touareg from Niger, described how the proposal to open as many as 140 new uranium mines in the Sahara desert in northern Niger would drive the Touareg from the land and eliminate their way of life.
Manuel Pino (pictured left)of the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico talked about the genocide that has already happened to southwestern Native Americans who have suffered the vast majority of uranium mines on their land, most never cleaned up. Many miners and their families still suffer the often fatal health effects, "but anyone who mined after 1971 is not entitled to compensation," he said. "We're here to tell Congress to change that." Pino added: "In this process of nuclear renaissance, it's almost like the federal government is ignoring the historical legacy of uranium mining in the past and prioritizing the economic benefits of nuclear power in the future at the expense of our land, our water and our people." Watch for video footage of the all three days' events, coming soon.
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