PROBIOS FORENSIC LABORATORY
This year 2023, ProBioS will proudly expand its forensic environmental laboratory. For many years it has been our desire to set up an independent laboratory for environmental forensic research or investigation. Due to the many legal and illegal interests and activities in the mining sector, agriculture and oil extraction, it is almost impossible to trust local laboratories for research in the interest of communities. These laboratories are used and well paid by the mining industry for analysis of mining processes from exploration to exploitation. Chemical pollution caused by mining activities, but also agriculture (pesticides), is not reported or investigated. In general, Government institutions don't take responsibilities or look the other way or have not institutional capabilities to assess chemical pollution. Toxic mercury and cyanide are now widely used in gold mining in Suriname and ProBioS has raised the alarm several times because of the poisoning of water, fish and communities in the interior. Despite widespread media coverage, we do not see any structural steps by the government to act against these illegal criminal activities. How could that be if leaders of our country are major shareholders in this pernicious and all-destructive gold mining. The outrage in the community sometimes runs high, but people quickly sigh "what can we do about this?" Things have changed now.
We often consider plastic waste, PET bottles or other household waste such as refrigerators or washing machines thrown along the roadside as terrible human behavior. Very good, but the major threats to health and nature comes from invisible threats such as chemical contamination, bacteriological contamination and radioactive radiation. There are many types man made chemical contaminants and their causes are diverse. The highly carcinogenic dioxin pollution mainly originates from domestic incineration of PVC, contaminating soil, water and food in the direct proximity.
The carcinogenic DDT was widely used in the last century to control mosquitoes or other insects. Like dioxin, DDT is a POP or Persistent Organic Pollutant saying it will not breakdown in nature that easy. Although the use of DDT in Suriname was discontinued in the 1970s, recent research of DDT in breast milk in Nickerie has also shown disturbing results.
Since 1986, the use of mercury has increased sharply because garimpeiros from Brazil moved en masse to Suriname and neighboring countries. The annual use of mercury is currently estimated at 60,000 kg. The studies on mercury in the inhabitants of the interior also give shockingly high numbers. Despite the many national and international warnings, the Surinamese government does nothing against the use of mercury in gold mining. Mercury gradually breaks down the nervous system and other crucial organs such as the kidneys.
Cyanide is normally used by industrial gold miners such as IamGold and Newmont under strict safety protocols to dissolve gold in gold ore. For several years now, Chinese gold miners in our interior have been working with chemical agents (including Jin Chan) that they call environmentally friendly. The technique is called Heap Leaching where the gold ore is placed on a plastic sheet and the chemicals (cyanide) are sprinkled over it. Gravity causes the liquid to sink downwards where it dissolves and carries along the fine gold particles along the way. The liquid eventually flows into a pond from which the gold is extracted. Both external and ProBioS' own research has shown that it concerns the acutely fatal poison cyanide. Without permits, safety protocols or control, these toxins are used in many places in our interior and soil life and aquatic life will die out. If this poison flows through the groundwater to a well, life-threatening situations can arise. This pernicious form of gold mining has also been going on for several years in the drinking water district of Para near Kwakoegron. Other known places where cyanide is used illegally are at Nw. Koffiekamp, Whitehouse west of Brownsberg and Sarakreek. We have already urged the government to take action.
Communities or concerned civilians should contact the authorities first and if their reaction is not cooperative they can contact ProBioS laboratory. ProBioS depends on small donations so depending on the situation we shall ask for a small fee to cover our costs.