By Pratch Rujivanarom
A FRESH round of blood/urine tests is now being processed through the initiative of five organisations, including the Industry Ministry, to assess a gold mine's impacts on the health of people living in Phichit, Phetchabun and Phitsanulok provinces.
The tests, which started with a blood-sample collection on Saturday, are the sixth round since locals became concerned about the operation of the Chatree Mining Complex. Many residents have complained about deteriorating health.
The blood/urine collection took place at Dong Lhong Temple in Phatchabun’s Wang Pong district over the weekend.
“I’m sure that we can come up with accurate results in one month,” Dr Smith Tungkasmit of Rangsit University said yesterday.
“The results should come out in time to solve the problems surrounding the goldmine.”
Rangsit University has agreed to take part in the blood testing in response to a request from local people.
Two other implementation agencies are the Central Institute of Forensic Science and the Public Health Ministry, which have also supported the initiative.
“We have received overwhelming interest. We collected 500 samples in just two days,” he said.
The samples will be carefully tested at the well-equipped laboratories of Ramathibodi Hospital and the Medical Sciences Department, he said.
“We are going to look for traces of manganese, arsenic and cyanide, as activists have claimed that these toxic substances have leaked from the goldmine,” he said.
The last test on 700 people in August found heavy metal levels in blood that were above average in more than 400 of those tested.
The current round of tests would check the findings from the last time.
This fresh round has covered 400 people whose blood has showed heavy metal concentration that is higher than the average last time.
“We have also covered two more groups of subjects. One is for people who have never taken part in the test before. The other is for children under 15 years of age. “For the young group, we’re going to check if their micronucleus or DNA has developed any abnormalities and whether their development has been affected,” he said.
This round only collected samples from people living near the Chatree mine in Phichit, Phetchabun and Phitsanulok, while the sample collection on the environment will be performed in two weeks.
The Department of Special Investigation has reportedly sent a team to survey the goldmine’s vicinity. The information would be used to decide whether the gold mine protest should be considered a special case to be assigned to the DSI. Suekanya Teerachartdamrong, a representative of the anti-goldmine group, said no representative from Akara Resources, operator of Chatree, was present during the sample collection.
“But I saw some people from the goldmine observing the activities from afar,” he said.