Mercury threatens Rupununi lives, hundreds reportedly affected

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Hundreds of persons living in the Rupununi, Region Nine reportedly have high levels of mercury in their system, raising serious health concerns for the region.

In one case, the entire village of Para Bara with a population size of roughly 200 is affected, Regional Chairman Brian Allicock told a news conference on Thursday.

Allicock said these results are from a recent study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in collaboration with the South Rupununi District Council.

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman told News Room that he was made aware of the situation on Monday last at the ongoing National Toshaos Conference (NTC) but he is awaiting an official report from the village leaders.

Trotman said once he has the written facts, Central Government will decide on a way forward.

Allicock explained to the News Room that the WWF team has been monitoring rivers and creeks since last year and earlier this year, they took samples and conducted tests from residents in several villages close to mining camps.

Other affected communities are Aishalton and Shulinab.

Allicock explained that the mercury contamination comes from mining activities in the region, which pollute the rivers that supply food to the residents. He suspects that many of the operations are illegal.

“The thing is, our people are suffering. Not the people on the coast, not the ministers out here, our people. How do we help our people to come out of those situations?” Allicock expressed.

Newly elected Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Nicholas Fredericks told News Room that the WWF survey will be launched later this year.

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