[24/03/2013] Arlit. The executive office of the Synergy of the civil society organizations with other partners of Arlit, met in the usual room of meetings to discuss on the critical situation and degrading conditions of life in the town of Arlit; which is considered as the lungs of our country economy.
Indeed, among many evils that our fellow citizens are suffering from, we can identify among others:
- The long-lasting problem of access to water and drying up of underground (aquifers) water;
- Unsatisfying number of local youth in the recruitment/employment process of the industry’s services;
- Health and environment problems caused by mining;
- Terrible condition of the uranium road and of the streets in the town;
- Non-respect of AREVA’s commitment regarding mining taxes for the region;
- Plundering of mineral resources ( water and minerals ) by the nuclear giant, Areva; and
- Poor electricity delivering in Arlit and frequent power interruption where there is some.
(photo: AZAOUA Mahaman fondator and coordinator of SYNERGIE OSC Arlit)
CIVIL SOCIETY SYNERGY OF ORGANIZATIONS IN ARLIT, SOSG
Contact : (00227 96 98 32 25 /96 6657 15/96500568
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Concerning water situation
Water as considered as source of life, is a right for all living beings. Unfortunately, it is not so in Arlit Commune. Indeed, since all the time the population has been suffering the water problem, it has never been the problem for the Nigerien government. And this is proven by the fact that in Arlit, SEEN ( Water exploitation of Niger ) does not have its own infrastructure/ installations in Arlit. Taking advantage of water distribution by companies on the area, SEEN ( branch of VEOLIA France ) that sells this rare essential ( though suspected as unclean water ) has never been efficient in supplying water to the population. As a paradox, this lack of water is not felt among the mining companies that pump up water freely to process their minerals while people are buying the same water for 200 FCFA per a 20-liter can. Because of this confusing situation, the synergy is appealing the government to install water counters in all Areva mining that is using water and to pay this used water with retroactive effects since the year they started mining uranium in the country. The income for water will be used for sustainable development.
Concerning health and environment problems
For about forty five years, AREVA , through its branches, has been exploiting the Arlit underground in Niger. This exploitation, instead of giving hope of better life for the local population, it, on the contrary, exposes every day the population to diseases from rays, radioactive dusts, contaminated metals from uranium mining; from other contaminated residues and from the contaminated aquifers (underground waters) of Arlit.
For example, recently according to reliable sources, during the systematic visits, some contaminated mining workers were extracted from the underground mine of COMINAK. Among the mine workers some had shown signs of lack of white globules.
Recently, the synergy, via a press release, had demanded the Areva’s Manager to consider with seriousness the health of former workers, local populations and their livestock. It is in this way, and in caring about population and mine workers, the synergy request to renegotiate with SHERPA for better function of the observatory of health of the Agadez region (OSRA ) in order to restore confidence among the former workers and the peoples of the mining sites. Up to now, AREVA with its “wear-time” politics, and of refusing dialogues, has shut its ears. Subsequently, we remind AREVA that we are open to any dialogue and we remain the only legitimate representative of the population of Arlit.
Concerning radioactive dusts
The RTR ( Road Tahoua- Arlit ) called uranium road, is one of the first roads of Niger that links the Agadez region to the rest of the country. It is now destroyed and causing thus deadly accidents. The populations are the ones who are paying for this situation: hard living, expensive transport costs causing the price of foods to rise. And concerning urban road system, in spite of some paved kilometers of roads, the populations are abandoned in the dusts. 45 million tons of tailings and contaminated metals are on the Arlit space exposing people to inhalation of radioactive dusts and to water contamination during drillings and explosives, water lixiviation and infiltration operations.
Concerning lack of commitment to pay mining taxes
- Considering the constitution of the republic of Niger;
- Considering the law No: 98-56 of December 1998 of framework agreement in regards with environment management of the Republic of Niger;
- Considering the decree No 2000-369/PRN/ME/LCD of 12 December 2000 regarding attributions, organization and functioning of the Office of Environmental Evaluation of the Impact Assessment (BEEEI);
- Considering the principles of preventing, of polluter-payer, taker-payer and principle of subsidiary;
- Considering that the letters and declarations of the synergy addressed to AREVA regarding problems of health and environment around the uranium mine sites; which remain without answer
And as for the mine tax which is a right of every region in the world where mining activities are being operated. It is unfortunate to notice that, since many years, the Communes of Agadez region have never benefitted from the taxes. It is here the time to ask where did all these billions of FCFA go? Didn’t AREVA pay this money? Because , for your information, during forty-five years of uranium exploitation, AREVA increased only in 2008, 10,4% with a progression of 34% , and in five years AREVA’s gross income was 13,2 billions of Euro, five time the GDP of Niger with a benefit of 589 million of Euros, against 743 million the preceding year.
With shares of 63,4% for Areva and 36,6 for Niger in SOMAIR; and 34% of Areva and 31% for Niger, in COMINAK, Areva has minority blockage. ( Source of data: Areva in Africa, a hidden face of French Nuclear ). In all this most winning business, only 5’5% is deposited on the Niger state national budget. Is this a paradox? Or the cause of our underdevelopment? As if that was not enough, in 2006, Areva started to give envelops of between 300 million to 500 million FCFA to five communes of the Arlit department for it said: “Sustainable Development”. This ridiculous amount does not reflect a “sustainable development.”
In our eyes, and as well informed civil society actors, that is “a drop in the ocean”. In comparison with the benefit that Areva makes, it is justified to ask what this amount represents? How many drums of uranium? Is it the price of radiation, pollution of populations and their animals?
In this situation of confusion and of the report “Pollute ( Arlit ) -winner ( Areva )”, the synergy OSC and the local population request to know where did the funds ( for the communes ) from mining taxes go? If no answer, the synergy will use all legal means to claim these rights. Furthermore, we ask to increase the envelope of sustainable development from 500 million to 2 billion of FCFA per year. We also demand the back payment ( 7 billion FCFA ) of communes’ mining taxes of the Agadez region without delay.
Plundering mineral resources ( water and minerals ) by the giant Areva
The Arlit uranium which has been the pride of AREVA for forty five years is exploited abusively in the region by this company. Indeed, the production of SOMAIR company from 600 tons per year to 3000 tons in 2012; and it projects to reach 3500 tons in the coming years without including COMINAK with 1500 tons; and soon Imouraren with 5000 tons. With such radical transformation of environment and pumping up fossil aquifers, there is risk of emptying the underground waters and the minerals. For example, COMONAK had chosen to operate by selectivity; but now it has no considerable reserve. Consequently, this abusive exploitation demands 6 times more water than before; which deprives people of water and provokes risks of contamination of the aquifers; because lixiviation process with no guaranty ( see tectonic accidents ) to prevent infiltration of uranium juice in the underground.
Power supplying in the city of Arlit.
Niger uranium, which has been exploited for more than 40 years, and which is one of most used sources of energy in the world, has never lit any lamp in Niger. Worse on that, this mineral has made France to become energy powerful country; as it has the cheapest electricity in the world; and as 2 of 3 electric bulbs are lit by uranium from Niger. You cannot understand that some city areas in Arlit have never seen electricity; and, yet this energy comes from coal of the Niger Coal company of Anou-Ararene (SONICHAR ).
Like water, electricity is given to the Niger electricity company (NIGELEC ) that sells it to the population; and yet, this company has no electricity infrastructure there. The population and the synergy are wondering why there are so many problems with power interruption that takes over one month in AKOLAN; and there is no solution to this problem during this dry, hot season. Nigelec that is making a lot of money from the electricity users is incapable of buying transformers that would support the city use.
Following the above-mentioned, the population of Arlit and the synergy demand:
State of Niger:
- To find the solution of water in a short term by installing water –tanks in Arlit and Akolan;
- To restart rehabilitation of the RTA road;
- To regulate the communes’ mining tax funds without delay ;
- To ask AREVA to pay bill for the water it has been using abusively for more than forty years, and
- To allocate work equipment to Nigelec
Mining Companies (SOMAIR, COMINAK, Imourarene ) AREVA’s affiliates and Goviex
- To stop plundering our mine resources and polluting environment;
- Undertake health and environment impact assessment around the sites of uranium exploitation in Arlit;
- To restart environmental impact assessment on the site of uranium mining at Imourarene;
- To carry radiological and medical follow up of the workers in specialized centers;
- To finalize the RAA ( road Arlit Akolan ) to eliminate dusts; and
- To pave all the roads of the urban commune of Arlit.
Employment of youths in the mining companies
With a population essentially young, Agadez region has many young people who finished schools but who have to job. Recently, SOMAIR had called for job application for 28 work positions. 1003 candidates had applied for this offer. This shows that we have a youth without job; unoccupied and forsaken.
The synergy reminds national and international opinions that this press statement is the result of many letters and declarations that were sent to the Niger state authorities but with neither reaction from them nor from the mining associates of AREVA. That is why, the Synergy OSC, its partners and local population of Arlit will use all legal means to achieve the legitimate claims.
In conclusion, the population, through the Synergy of the civil society of Arlit, with national and international opinions, as witnesses, holds the government of the 7th Republic and AREVA responsible for the consequences of all that will happens; and calls all organizations of Civil Society of Arlit and of all the country, Niger to remain vigilant because the huge and general mobilization of the population will be organized in the coming days to stop AREVA’s behavior in Arlit.
Arlit March 24, 2013
Synergy of OCS Arlit
Some notes on SYNERGY OSC of Arlit:
Founded on Feb 16, 2011 in Arlit, the Synergy of the Civil Society organizations is a group of young students, women, youths, artisanal workers, NGOs Associations, Associations of former mine workers and labor unions of Arlit. It is a non-profit and non political organization.
The members of the council of administration have been on the frontline of social claims in the extractive companies since 2003. For having participated in all the accords of 2009 and in creation of the Health Observatory of the Agadez Region (OSRA) in December 2011. The Synergy in member of the African Uranium Alliance (AUA ) since March 2012 at the international conference on uranium organized in Bamako, Mali, in March 2012.
To defend social, economic, environmental and health rights of local populations, of former mine workers and of the uranium mining surrounding sites in the region of Agadez.
OBJECTIVE 2: To advance social economic efforts by training, sensitization; and assistance to the most in poverty.
Photo 1: Shows radical transformation of vegetation space in Arlit.
Photo 2: Shows artificial mountains of tailings near habitats.