Concern over radioactive waste left at former Baghalchur uranium mine
Speakers at a seminar held on July 17, 2006, did not rule out the possibility of health hazards out of nuclear activities in Dera Ghazi Khan. However, they said, no such scientific evidence could be found there. The seminar on "nuclear waste management" was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) . (Dawn July 18, 2006)
Prof. Khalid Rashid, a former PAEC employee who currently teaches Mathematical Modelling and Simulation at the Bahria University, in Islamabad, says what is important is to carry out a survey that would reveal "the effects on health of the people of Baghalchur". Looking at the records for the last 30 years, that are kept in the district hospital, would give some clue, says Rashid. He added that, as far back as in 1982, a medical doctor at the hospital had told him that the incidence of leukemia among Baghalchur residents was about six times higher than the national average. (IPS May 31, 2006)
On May 19, 2006, a ruling party senator from Punjab accused the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) of dumping nuclear waste in a village near Dera Ghazi Khan without observing international safety standards, causing many deaths in the area. Speaking on a point of order in the Senate, Sardar Jamal Khan Leghari of the Pakistan Muslim League said the PAEC had been mining uranium in the village for 25 years for one of its facilities near D. G. Khan and dumping the nuclear waste in the open. He said the matter was of serious nature and it should be referred either to the standing committee on defence or environment. He said the dumping of the nuclear waste was affecting poor people from Baloch and Leghari tribes living in the area, several of whom had already died.
Later, talking to journalists, Mr Leghari said livestock mortality and diseases among people living in the Baghalchur village near D. G. Khan were on the rise due to uranium mining in the area. He said the people of the village working as mine labourers had adverse effects on their health. He claimed that life expectancy in the village had reduced to 40 years.
Replying to a question, he said some villagers had taken the matter to the Supreme Court but the court had decided to keep the proceedings secret. After publication of such reports in a section of the press, PAEC authorities had claimed that the waste was being dumped underground in tunnels and there had been no radioactive effects of it on the area population and its environs. (Dawn May 21, 2006)
Residents of Baghul Chur tribal area are concerned at the "unsafe dumping of atomic waste" in the area. Speaking at a news conference on March 18, 2006, representatives of Mubarki union council Khan Nazir Ahmed, Yaqoob Shah and Hafeezullah Shah demanded that atomic waste be removed from their land as it was causing harm to humans, animals, water and soil. They claimed that as many as 400 drums of atomic waste and other material were lying in the open.
They told the press that they had already lodged an application with the sessions court seeking preservation of atmosphere, land, water, human and animal health of the area of Mubarki Tuman Leghari. The District and Sessions Judges (D&SJ) had sent the application to the Law, Justice and Human Rights Commission, Islamabad.
Mining for uranium was started in Baghul Chur in 1977 and the project ended in 2000. The Atomic Energy Commission had asked the political assistant to dispose of the building established in Bagul Chur.
"The authorities concerned did not take required safety measures while winding up the project," they claimed. Political assistant Tariq Bokhari said there were some stores in Baghul Chur but rejected claims of their adverse affects. (Dawn Mar 19, 2006)
Pakistan closes Baghalchur mineThe existing uranium mining project in Baghalchar is to be 'wound up' from 30 November, 1999. According to Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), the project is closing because the reserves have been worked out and not because of 'foreign pressure' as some politicians have apparently alleged. (UI News Briefing 99.42)