The nuclear grave of india

by Luca Catalano Gonzaga

Deformities of the skeletal system, partially formed skull, swollen head, missing eyes or ears, blood diseases, fingers joined with each other, brain damage. Most of the children in the villages around Jadugoda, a city in the Eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, suffer from similar physical malformations. Environmentalists have been connecting these conditions to toxic waste produced from the uranium mine in the village. By 2032, India aims to generate 63 gigawatts of nuclear power that would cut its dependency for energy supply and put it on the path to progress. But progress comes at a price. Jadugoda, in the Eastern state of Jharkhand, is that price. This small township is home to the world’s finest uranium ores: the magnesium diuranate. This lethal feed for the country’s reactors is slowly finishing an entire generation of inhabitants living in the area. The people of Jadugoda are exposed to radioactivity in several ways: uranium mining and milling operations produce dust and release radon gas, both of which are inhaled by miners and cause internal irradiation. Uranium ore is transported into uncovered trucks on bumpy roads, causing radioactive debris to fall off and land. The mine is tailored in unlined and uncovered ponds, which emit radon gas and gamma radiation. Villages which are in the close proximity of the tailing ponds are the most affected ones. During the dry season, dust from the tailing blows through these villages. During the monsoons, radioactive waste spills into the surrounding creeks and rivers, causing further internal radiation, as villagers use the nearby ponds for fishing. The dumped nuclear waste can remain radioactive and dangerous for millions of years. According to a study done by a team from Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD), there has been a significant rise in the cases of congenital deformities among infants, increased sterility and elevated numbers of deaths due to cancer. Reduced life expectancy among people living near the mines was also documented, 68.33 per cent people are dying before the age of 62. (text by Muriel de Meo).