/** labr.global: 315.0 **/
** Topic: Namibian Miners Radiated By UK Multi-Nat Demand Compensation **
** Written 11:54 PM Jul 31, 1997 by labornews in cdp:labr.global ** From: Institute for Global Communications <email@example.com>
Subject: Namibian Miners Radiated By UK Multi-Nat Demand Compensation
No goggles or masks amid the dust Four ailing Namibian miners appeared on British television to talk about working conditions on a British-owned mine that supplied no masks or goggles to miners working in radioactive dust.
BBC TV this week broadcast statements from four mineworkers who claim their ill-health resulted from poor working conditions at the Rossing Uranium mine.
The BBC's main in-depth news programme, Newsnight, interviewed Edward Connelly, who yesterday won the right to bring his N$3 million compensation case in the UK, Petrus Hwaibe, Petrus Naibab, and featured an archive statement from the late Peter Carlson, who died from cancer in 1994.
Connelly, who worked at the mine from battle 1977 to 1982, told the BBC that when he started working at Rossing: "Nobody had a mask there, nobody, at the mine... they never offered them a mask. We were told it was quite safe, it's low grade, babies you know just to stand back away from the dust, which is impossible."
In response Rossing's Manager for Corporate Affairs, Gida Sekandi, told Newsnight: "We do not believe that Mr Connelly worked in those kind of conditions or that his medical condition could have been caused by him working here."
Peter Carlson worked in the mine's crushers at the same time as Connelly. In 1994 shortly before he died from cancer of the gullet Carlson stated: "I was covered in dust all the time I worked in the crushers. No respirators, only goggles were supplied in the early years. There was no place to sit and eat that was protected from the dust. There was no shade. There were no ablution facilities or changing facilities".
Petrus Hwaibe, who still works in the Rossing laboratories, has aplastic anaemia (collapse of the bone marrow). He told BBC reporter Peter Marshall that he was ready to follow Connelly's case and bring his compensation case in Britain.
Petrus Naibab, who worked in the Open Pit from the early 1980s, is thought to have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (a cancer which is associated with radiation exposure). He says he had a mask, but took it off to eat, despite the dust. "Was it dangerous?" he was asked. "It is. I think about it, but I have no choice. I'm hungry, I must eat."
Rossing's Sekandi maintained that a 1992 audit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had confirmed that the mine's safety standards were acceptable.
But David Myers, the IAEA health assessor for the 1992 report, told the BBC that radiation records before 1980-81 were "shaky, skimpy, and flimsy. I don't know about exposure to radioactive dust. That information wasn't available."
Rossing's parent company, RTZ, refused to be interviewed for the programme.