Nuclear waste threatens Pakistani village

A Pakistani senator has accused his country's nuclear authorities of dumping radioactive waste near a village in Punjab province and causing widespread diseases and deaths in the area.

Senator Jamal Leghari accused the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, which operates the country’s secretive nuclear power industry, and the Kahuta Research Laboratory atomic research facility of dumping tonnes of radioactive waste outside of the village of Baghalchur in Punjab province.

The PAEC denied this, saying it disposes of all its waste in controlled facilities, and that its tests found no radioactivity in the area.

Senator Leghari claims that the contamination is causing cancer, skin-related diseases and miscarriages to triple in his constituency of Choti, 100km from the alleged dumping site. He says he has evidence from surveys carried out in the area. Other reported anomalies included deaths and malformations in animals born in the village.

The Baghalchur area was mined for uranium until the year 2000, but local residents have said that trucks carrying radioactive material began arriving once again in recent years.

Pakistan’s Dera Ghazi Khan district where the village is located remains a centre for the country’s uranium mining and enrichment industry.

Senator Leghari, who is a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, has called for an independent inquiry into the matter.

Goska Romanowicz

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